What's new
What's new

Fullagar---the ship and the engine

JHOLLAND1

Titanium
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Location
western washington state
the first welded ships hull was the 620 tonne coastal freighter Fullagar

launched in 1920 by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead works--River Mersey
the ships plates of steel were joined by shielded arc welding--stick electrodes of
mild steel rod dipped in asbestos slurry

the ship was named as homage to marine engineer W H Fullagar--
designer of two stroke opposed diesels of stationary and marine application

the "coaster" Fullagar in fact had one of the first Fullagar marine engines installed
-which ultimately proved unsatisfactory--and was replaced with steam

MV Fullagar was sold to an american firm and renamed Cedros--and in 1937 sank off
Baja Peninsula where it remains

one Fullagar diesel yet remains on the planet--in Napier New Zealand
installed in 1925 as motive power to a gen set
 

Attachments

  • 11fullagar.JPG
    11fullagar.JPG
    85.8 KB · Views: 1,899
  • 25fullagar.JPG
    25fullagar.JPG
    77.8 KB · Views: 2,169
  • 22fullagar.jpg
    22fullagar.jpg
    88.3 KB · Views: 852
  • 34fullagar.JPG
    34fullagar.JPG
    97 KB · Views: 1,762
  • 13fullagar.JPG
    13fullagar.JPG
    54.9 KB · Views: 1,730
Last edited:
one Fullagar diesel yet remains on the planet--in Napier New Zealand
installed in 1925 as motive power to a gen set

There are a few more survivors out of the 100 or so stationary Fullagar generating sets made by English Electric - two in Australia, six in Malta, maybe three in Gibraltar and there were engines on Nauru Island until recent times. There were eight engines supplied to Khartoum....maybe they are still on standby....:skep:

BTW, the English Electric Fullagar engines were designed for stationary generating use and were distinct from the marine engines. The marine engines were not a success, the land-based design seems to have been a lot better, the final engine being built in the 1950's.

The engine in NZ was one of the first English Electric Fullagars and still has its original blast injection fitted. Some of the other early Fullagars were updated to solid injection.
 
I was told by the late Bob Cox that the particular problems with the marine Fullagar engines stemmed from the effects of hull strains transmitted to the engine structure.
 
Hello
We have just completed a major servicing of the Fullagar engine at the Faraday centre in Napier which is still functioning under the power of a large 3 phase electric motor. I have posted a new photo of the engine and happy to post more on the engine if there is any interest.
IMG-1679.jpgIMG-1679.jpg
 
Hello
We have just completed a major servicing of the Fullagar engine at the Faraday centre in Napier which is still functioning under the power of a large 3 phase electric motor. I have posted a new photo of the engine and happy to post more on the engine if there is any interest.

Hi Gordon,

Great to hear the Napier Fullagar is being cared for - what sort of work have you been doing to it?

I wonder what the internal condition is like - any chance it will run under its own power one day?

More photos are very welcome!

Napier Fullagar 2022 01.jpg
 
Mark's factory is still there - for the moment.

Cammell Laird's yard at Birkenhead is also still going. At least it was in February when I took this photo showing part of what is probably an original workshop wall from the 1850s. A 'Grey Funnel Line' vessel was in drydock.

View attachment 347925

I suggest we start a donation fund to procure qty (1) "Ladder" for member Asquith......:D
 
JD 2022 Fullagar 1.jpg 1 JD 2022 Fullagar 2.jpg 2 JD 2022 Fullagar 3.jpg 3

I must admit that I hadn’t looked into the workings of the Fullagar engine, thinking it was complicated. I was wrong. It’s ingenious, and simple compared with other opposed two-stroke engines like the Junkers, Doxford, Deltic, and others. The simplicity comes from using the crosshead of one cylinder to move the top piston of the other cylinder. The diagonal rod just goes up and down, it isn’t articulated, and always works in tension. The enclosed rectangular space above the top crosshead serves as the cylinder of the scavenge pump, with the crosshead as the piston, working at a couple of psi.

The drawings are for Modern Power Engineering, Vol 2 by A Regnauld (1924 ?). He provides some test results for a 1000 HP engine. I was surprised ton see that the indicated HP was 1400, but the BHP was only 1000, a mechanical efficiency of just 71.4%. I can see that power would be lost in driving the air compressor and scavenge pump and water pump, but where else is power being consumed?

The model is or was at the London Science Museum. Probably not any more, the way the Science Museum is going.

Thanks to Gordon Hart for reawakening this topic.
 
I also notice that in the drawing, the crankshaft has generally balanced torque between the big ends, both for compression and power stroke. The unbalance is whatever is taken out by the scavenge compressor. That should reduce wear on the crankshaft main bearings.

It does put a bit of stress on that long second connecting rod, and side stress on the crossheads. Maybe that was the cause of the problems mentioned above.
 
More information on the ship Fullagar:

In December 1920 it was reported that ‘The vessel in question has now been in service for over six months, and the engine has run without any defects appearing.’

However in 1921 the Cammellaird-Fullagar engine was replaced by a Beardmore diesel engine. The official line was that the engine was experimental and it was more powerful than required for its role as a coaster. It is true that the original engine output was 500 HP, whereas the new one was only rated at 320 HP.

The idea that a marine diesel propulsion engine might run trouble free c.1920 is surprising, having read Backward Thinking by marine engineer John Lamb (thanks to Peter S for the recommendation). He describes some nightmarish voyages during WW1.

On edit: I shouldn't have been so sceptical. From the Liverpool Journal of Commerce, 28 October 1920: '.... Being thoroughly satisfied with the results of this heavy oil engine, and recognising that it was installed in the vessel in the first place by Messrs. Cammell Laird for experimental purposes, Messrs. Brocklebank have come to the conclusion that the motor is more powerful than is necessary for a coasting vessel of the size of the Fullagar. They have therefore placed an order with Messrs. Cammmell Laird for a similar engine in all respects; and when this is completed the two units — the one at present in the Fullagar and the new one — will be installed in a twin-strew vessel of some 4,000 tons, which is now under construction.

'Messrs. Cammell Laird have well in hand twin-screw machinery of the type of about 2,000 brake horse-power to be installed in a ship under construction for the same owners. The "Cammellaird-Fullagar" engine, which has proved so satisfactory in the motorship Fullagar, will be replaced by machinery of much less power, which will meet all her requirements as a coasting vessel.'

So, the first engine was to be re-used in a bigger ship.

On the other hand..... Cammellaird-Fullagar engines fitted to two US United Fruit Co ships, powering BTH generators and propusion motors, were removed in 1927. They were replaced in one of the ships by FIAT engines. The ships were from a batch of three made by Cammell Laird, the first (La Playa) going into service in 1923. The second, La Peria, initially had triple-expansion engines, later replaced by steam turbines. The third, La Marea, had her Fullagar engines replaced by steam turbines.

...........................
Loss of the ship in 1937 (from the Liverpool Journal of Commerce, 10 September 1937):-

'SEVENTEEN YEARS' SERVICE UNDER FOUR NAMES

'A recent casualty report recorded a collision off the west coast of Mexico between the auxiliary sailing ship Hidalgo and the motorship Cedros, as a result of which the latter sank. The port of registry of the Cedros was Ensenada and she flew the Mexican flag, being owned by Abalardo Rodriguez, former President of Mexico.

'As such the Cedros was not well known, but she was, in fact, an outstanding vessel. During her career she had four names, and under the earliest of these she was a pioneer, being the first sea-going rivetless ship. That much stated, her identity will be quickly recognised by those who have followed the development of welding in shipbuilding.

'The Cedros was originally, in fact, the Fullagar and was built in 1920 by Messrs. Cammell Laird and Co., Ltd., at Birkenhead, her hull being electrically welded throughout by the Quasi-Arc process. The fact that she had 17 years' service, which only came to an end because of a collision, is sufficient indication of the efficiency and strength of her construction, despite the fact that electric welding was then only in its very early stages of development.
The plates of the Fullagar were not flush welded in accordance with modern practice, but joggled, giving the hull the appearance of a riveted with straight frames.

'The Fullagar was, in short, a valid full-scale experiment in electric welding because of the fact that no rivets whatever were used in her construction. In the early part of her life she carried steel plates from South Wales to Liverpool. Later she was engaged in coasting service in British Columbia, carrying cargoes of cement, and circumstances combined to make her experience as comprehensive as possible.

'In 1921, she grounded on a sandbank in the River Mersey, and her bottom was set up about 11ins. over a considerable area. It has been recorded that it was faired simply by pushing the plates out again with jacks, no leakage from or cracking of the welding being found.

'Before the repairs were effected, however, she had carried a cargo of coal to Belfast, where she delivered it without anybody suspecting she had been damaged at all. When the cargo was cleared out it was found that the bottom was set up as stated. It was proposed to take her back to Liverpool for repairs, but the underwriters said she was not worth repairing. Thus there was the paradox of a ship having delivered her cargo in a satisfactory condition and yet deemed to be a constructive total loss.

'In October, 1930. she hit a rock near Victoria, British Columbia, when fully loaded. Repairs were carried out in a similar manner, and it was found that the welding was still performing its function effectively as a connecting medium.

'Other names by which the ship was known during her career were Shean and Caria.'

More on the engines:-

Cammellaird-Fullagar licences were taken out by a number of marine engine builders, namely John Brown & Co of Clydebank, David Rowan & Co., Glasgow; Smith's Dock Co., Ltd., South Shields, Ateliers et Chantiers de Bretagne, Nantes and Kawasaki Dockyard Co. of Japan.

As far as I know, only Palmers and John Brown's built any examples.

Licences to build Cammellaird-Fullagar engines for land use were taken out by the English Electric Co and Carels Frères of Belgium. English Electric built about 100 examples.

Hugh Francis Fullagar originally envisaged the engine as a gas engine. He approached W. H. Allen & Co in 1911 to produce the prototype. This was installed to drive a generator in Gateshead, and ran on gas (town’s gas, presumably). Fullagar died in 1917.

For much more information on the engines and their problems, see 'Development and Decline of the British Crosshead Type Marine Propulsion Diesel Engine' by Denis Griffiths. A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Liverpool John Moores University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, September 1994 (page 94 onwards):-

https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/4947/1/262203.pdf
 
Last edited:
View attachment 347956 1 View attachment 347957 2 View attachment 347958 3

I must admit that I hadn’t looked into the workings of the Fullagar engine, thinking it was complicated. I was wrong. It’s ingenious, and simple compared with other opposed two-stroke engines like the Junkers, Doxford, Deltic, and others. The simplicity comes from using the crosshead of one cylinder to move the top piston of the other cylinder. The diagonal rod just goes up and down, it isn’t articulated, and always works in tension. The enclosed rectangular space above the top crosshead serves as the cylinder of the scavenge pump, with the crosshead as the piston, working at a couple of psi.

The drawings are for Modern Power Engineering, Vol 2 by A Regnauld (1924 ?). He provides some test results for a 1000 HP engine. I was surprised ton see that the indicated HP was 1400, but the BHP was only 1000, a mechanical efficiency of just 71.4%. I can see that power would be lost in driving the air compressor and scavenge pump and water pump, but where else is power being consumed?

The model is or was at the London Science Museum. Probably not any more, the way the Science Museum is going.

Thanks to Gordon Hart for reawakening this topic.
Hello from Napier N.Z.
Here is an update on the Fullagar Stationary Engine housed in the Napier Farady Museum of Technology.
I am a co-volunteer with Gordon Hart. Last year our Provence of Hawkes Bay was severely affected by a Cyclone. The recovery impacted heavily on the Napier Council's Finances and rather than heavily increase Rates, the councilors have opted to shed or amalgamate some of the tourist attractions. Unfortunately the Museum The English Electric Fullagar Engine is in is one such entity. At present they are researching the possibility of amalgamating some of the Museums exhibits to another Building. This unfortunately could mean the loss of the Engine as the cost of dismantlement and re-assembly in another location would seem to be beyond the Council's resources. As the building is Leased by the council, it would most probably be let go. This could mean that should the building be purchased by a new owner the Rare Fullagar Engine could be sold off and perhaps scrapped.
We Volunteers would be most grateful if people in this forum would put pen to paper or Email the Mayor expressing concern at the possible loss of this Museum and Engine which is the Prime exhibit in the museum. Email; [email protected]. Web site; www.napier.govt.nz. Mail; Napier City Council, 215 Hasting Street, Napier 4110, New Zealand. Thank You, Ian McPherson
 
Last edited:
'....the Fullagar and was built in 1920 by Messrs. Cammell Laird and Co., Ltd., at Birkenhead, her hull being electrically welded throughout by the Quasi-Arc process.

'The Fullagar was, in short, a valid full-scale experiment in electric welding because of the fact that no rivets whatever were used in her construction.
By coincidence I came across the Quasi-Arc name recently.

There was an estate sale of derelict machinery including a portable welder: Chevrolet? engine driving a Crompton (1920's?) generator supplying power to a Quasi-Arc welder. Belt-driven grinder, ideal in the days before portable power tools.

Quasi-Arc was a new name to me, but it turns out they were early builders of electric arc welders and were around for many years. Being used to build the first all-welded ocean-going steel ship must have been good publicity.

2110665096.jpg 2110665162.jpg 2111102457.jpg

The Wikipedia page shows a 1926 example of Quasi-Arc welded locomotive cylinders, strangely enough, in NZ:


Locomotive_cylinder_welded_by_quasi-arc_process._ATLIB_288058 red By Godber, Albert Percy, 187...png Godber Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library
 
View attachment 347956 1 View attachment 347957 2 View attachment 347958 3

I must admit that I hadn’t looked into the workings of the Fullagar engine, thinking it was complicated. I was wrong. It’s ingenious, and simple compared with other opposed two-stroke engines like the Junkers, Doxford, Deltic, and others. The simplicity comes from using the crosshead of one cylinder to move the top piston of the other cylinder. The diagonal rod just goes up and down, it isn’t articulated, and always works in tension. The enclosed rectangular space above the top crosshead serves as the cylinder of the scavenge pump, with the crosshead as the piston, working at a couple of psi.

The drawings are for Modern Power Engineering, Vol 2 by A Regnauld (1924 ?). He provides some test results for a 1000 HP engine. I was surprised ton see that the indicated HP was 1400, but the BHP was only 1000, a mechanical efficiency of just 71.4%. I can see that power would be lost in driving the air compressor and scavenge pump and water pump, but where else is power being consumed?

The model is or was at the London Science Museum. Probably not any more, the way the Science Museum is going.

Thanks to Gordon Hart for reawakening this topic.
It is reminiscent of the lamplough http://douglas-self.com/MUSEUM/POWER/unusualICeng/axial-ICeng/axial-IC.htm


I feel an animation coming on...
 
Last edited:
I feel an animation coming on...

Bill,
That sounds good!

Years ago I corresponded with a UK man who had some original Fullagar advertising material, including a movable cardboard? flat model which showed how the opposed and paired cylinder design worked.

I have a 'gif' which looks to be the same model, but I can't recall where this came from - maybe you! Note the 'thumb wheel' on the crankshaft.

Unfortunately it doesn't show the really interesting bits - single crank pin per cylinder instead of the usual three, the diagonal tie rod connections and the crossheads doubling as scavenge pistons.

Fullagar.gif
 
Last edited:
Here are a few pages from a Fullagar brochure showing some of these features. Note, the following are all land-based engines, not marine.

Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 04.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 05.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 10.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 11.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 12.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 16.png Fullagar Diesel Engine catalogue pg 17.png

Some years back I wrote a bit about these engines on another forum, here is one paragraph:

There were two main sizes offered by English Electric, the Type Q (14” bore, 16” stroke, each piston) and the Type R (19” bore, 22” stroke, each piston). Both types were made in four, six and eight cylinder versions. The Q type had the prominent “square” scavenge pump, the single-acting pump being the top cross head. The R type had a more conventional circular, double-acting, scavenge pump above each upper piston. Blast injection gave way to direct injection from around 1931, some of the older engines were upgraded to airless injection.

Surviving engines c. 2014: Malta (Type 6Q x6), Australia (Type 8Q x2), Gibraltar (3?) and NZ (4Q x1)
 
Last edited:
Thanks to JHolland and PeterS for starting and posting this thread about a very interesting diesel engine. The opposed piston concept was used by a number of designers in low, medium and high speed diesel engines. I have seen youtubes of the Doxford diesels, which were more common than the Fullagar engines. My own exposure to opposed piston diesel engines was with the Fairbanks-Morse 38 D 8 1/8 engines. The opposed piston concept is great- in theory. Unfortunately the reality is a more complex engine with a lot more moving parts. On the smallest end of the opposed piston diesels, I believe Commer, in England, built an OP diesel for use in trucks. This was a high speed diesel. In the USA, I believe there was the Hill "Balanced Power" OP diesel engine. This was an opposed piston diesel using a single crankshaft and walking beams and longer connecting rods to transmit power from the opposing pistons to the crankshaft. Fairbanks Morse was perhaps the most successful builder of OP medium speed diesel engines. F-M's design was as simple as an OP design was likely to be. Even so, it was still something of a maintenance headache with an upper crankshaft, scavenging blower, and vertical driveshaft (to transmit power from the upper crankshaft to the lower crankshaft). F-M built the OP engines in large numbers, particularly during WWII when many went into US Navy submarines. I was around OP F-M engines for stationary use in power generating plants. The Navy liked the F-M engines for submarines as these engine produced a lot of horsepower with very low vibration and did it in a compact space.

The Fullagar engine is a very interesting design, but looked to be a complicated proposition to build and maintain. In the USA, the Sun Shipbuilding Company of Chester, Pennsylvania, was a licensed builder of the Doxford O-P diesel engines. The Doxford was an English design, and the engines built by Sun were known as Sun-Doxford. The last of them in the USA was the main engine on one of the Ford Motor Company's Great Lakes ore boats. I believe the last Doxford engine used for marine propulsion made its last voyage to the shipbreakers within the past 4-5 years. The O-P diesels are all 2 stroke engines. Even in these present times where restrictions on exhaust emissions and reducing carbon footprint are become tighter, two stroke low speed diesels prevail for marine propulsion. However, these are much simpler in design than the Fullagar, nor are these engines O-P types.

The welded hull construction and the fact the hull stood up to groundings speaks volumes for not just the welding but the plate steel and framing steel. The hull was built of open hearth steel (in all likelihood given the times). It is interesting to note that the hull plating was put on with "joggled" seams. Joggling is a forming operation which forms a 'step' or offset in the plate. It allows one plate with the joggled edge to overlap the next plate, but the main part of both plates are in a common plane. Joggling was done when making some of the riveted seams on ship's hulls. I think by using joggled seams, the problems many of the early welded ships hulls were avoided. Later generations of welded ships, such as Liberty and Victory ships, used open root butt welded seams for much of the hull plating. These hulls were also made of open hearth steel. Despite the advances in welding from the time of the "Fullagar", many of these WWII era merchant vessels had a tendency to have hull failures due to cracking of welds or plarting. My own sense of things is that the joggled seams on the "Fullagar" hull allowed some stress relieving. With the joggled plating, the seam welds would have been fillet welds. The joggling of the plates provided a 'knuckle' and this allowed some flexure of the plating as the weld seams were run. This let weld stress 'work itself out' and minimized post weld cracking. It also put less stress into the hull plating, so the open hearth steel held up better in service.

The description of the actual welding process used sounds deadly for the actual weldors (Lincoln Electric always referred to the person doing the welding as a "weldor", and a "welder" was the welding machine). Electrodes using a flux coating made of asbestos had to have put a lot of asbestos fibers into the smoke coming off the welding. A hull weldor working inside the ship's hull in those times did not have any kind of protection other than a very basic welding shield. At least the hull weldors working on the outside of the hull might have a chance of some breeze or wind carrying the weld smoke away from them. The hull may well have lasted longer than many of the weldors who built it.
 
Joe mentioned the Commer opposed piston diesel engine. Commer trucks with the TS3 engine were were fairly common in the UK when I was young, and they were noisy, and not in a good way. At least the noise only affected pedestrians for a short time, whereas the drivers spent their working day in close proximity. The engine was arranged something like a beam engine. See:-


Going back to Fullagar engines, it seems that English Electric examples in Bermuda were long lived. One operated for more than 40 years :-
https://belco.bm/belco-history-growth-engines-grid-development-increasing-demand/

Thinking about the unsuccessful Fullagar marine engines reminded me that I'd taken some snaps of a large model of an unusual marine diesel in the excellent Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine. It was a single cylinder engine designed by J. C. M. MacLagan and made by the North British Diesel Engine Co.

JD 2022 Irvine MacLagan.JPG

It was a two-stroke double-acting engine. Each piston was double-ended, and as it went up and down, so did the cylinder, but the cylinder stroke was less than that of the piston. By this means the scavenge air inlet ports and the exhaust ports were opened and closed at the all-important right moment. Ingenious, but it might appear that needing to have each cylinder (in two parts, top and bottom) moving up and down would be a bad thing. It probably was.

Three ships were fitted with these engines in the mid 1920s, but the engines were troublesome and were short-lived.

Rather than me trying to explain it, I can do no better than to recommend this animation and this description:-

https://acwhyte.droppages.com/downloads/animations/NBSCE_combined_animation.gif

https://acwhyte.droppages.com/downloads/research/research_note_ms_swanley_and_nbsc_engine.pdf

The model has had a hard life and is a bit shabby, and I didn't give it as much attention as I now wish I had. However, it was quite something in its day, and it worked.

This photo shows the model as it once was. From The Engineer, 25 April 1924, courtesy of Grace's Guide:-

Engr 1924 04 25 MacLagan 1.jpg
 








 
Back
Top