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Morris Lubricants supports project to restore Bristol Hercules engines

Enthusiasts Patrick Smart and Peter Irving are men with a fascinating mission: to restore four Bristol Hercules engines to ground running condition for displays around the country.


They have already fully restored one engine – one of only handful of known working Bristol Hercules in the world – another is nearing completion and the other two should be completed within two years, provided the required parts are located following a world-wide search of aircraft museums and private collections.


Now Morris Lubricants, one of Europe's leading oil blenders and marketers based in Shrewsbury, has added its support to the restoration project by providing classic oil for the engines in return for having two stainless steel fuel tanks wrapped with the company’s famous blue and yellow brand.


Patrick, who owns Land Rover specialists Maddison 4 x 4 in Thirsk, Yorkshire and neighbour Peter bought the first of the engines three years ago.


Patrick, whose father, Alan, flew Halifax bombers from Lissett, Driffield and Pocklington airfields during the Second World War, earning a Distinguished Flying Cross and two green endorsements, found the first of the Hercules engines on loan at Elvington Air Museum.


It was on display and no longer in working order. They bought it, set about rebuilding it with retired pilot Peter’s help and within a couple months it was running.


“We are a pair of petrolheads, really,” explained Patrick. “The reason I took the restoration on is my dad was a former pilot officer in the war flying with 158 and 640 Squadrons. He always praised the Bristol Hercules engines, as he said ‘they always got us home’.


“The aim is to get all four engines running together. What a sound that will be, we’ll almost have a full bomber.”


He estimates that the project to date, in cash alone, has cost around £25,000 but says a restored engine in working condition can cost between £25,000 and £45,000.


Peter began flying at the age of 16 and joined the RAF to fly fast jets, culminating in the Tornado F3 before becoming a Virgin Atlantic Airways captain flying the Airbus A340-600.


“I am a true petrol head and a very keen machinist and just admire the skill of the engineers who produced such works of art like the Bristol Hercules,” he said. “There were no CNC machines back then!”


The Bristol Hercules is a 14-cylinder two-row radial aircraft engine designed by Sir Roy Fedden and produced by the Bristol Engine Company starting in 1939. It was the first of the company’s single sleeve valve (Burt-McCollum or Argyll type) designs to see widespread use, powering many aircraft in the Second World War.


Morris Lubricants is supplying 205 litres of its Golden Film SAE 50 Classic Motor Oil, a specialist range of high quality, low detergent/dispersant monograde lubricants, for the engines. The oils are suitable for use in naturally aspirated four stroke petrol and diesel engines and classic gearbox designs.


Patrick said he had bought oil from Steve Brownless, Morris Lubricants’ area sales manager for Northern England and Scotland, for many years for Maddison 4 x 4 and in his previous job in the milling industry.


“We needed a thicker oil more closely matched to what the engines used to run on and Morris Lubricants came up with Golden Film SAE 50,” he added. “We needed oil and Morris Lubricants has a track record of supporting heritage projects.”


Steve said: “Patrick is a longstanding and valued customer and there is always a deep satisfaction in being able to support high precision heritage ventures of this kind that create so much interest in this sector.”


Readers will be able to see the restored Bristol Hercules engine running at a series of events this year including the Vintage Gathering Northallerton on June 4, Biscter Flywheel Festival June 24 and 25, Blackbush Airfield 75th Anniversary  weekend July 1 and 2, Breighton Airfield Buckfest Weekend from July 14-16, Croft Nostalgia Weekend on August 5 and 6 and Ashott Airfield, Northumberland from August 18-20.


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