Moffat Virtue Restoration

Moffat Virtue MV2

Report kindly supplied by Alan Cullen.

Alan Cullen tells the story of his lovingly restored Australian engine.

Part 1 – Introduction
Having a reputation as a collector of old stationary engines, an acquaintance approached me at a local rally and asked if I would be interested in a Moffat virtue to add to my collection. I already have a 3hp Moffat Virtue (MV3) that I restored four years ago and have successfully rallied since.
I have seen a few examples during that time, but only a very few. This latest Moffat Virtue is a 2hp MV2. There are apparently only 13 MV2 engines on the register in Australia and this is probably the only one in the UK. It has been in the country for some 3 to 4 years and most definitely has not been run while over here.


Part 2 – Finding and Making Parts
As the early photos show I was very lucky that it was so complete, it even had it’s original starting handle. As you can see some parts just had to be replaced, such as the fuel tank, which was full of rubbish and had some quite large holes in it, that weren’t shown on the original drawing – in the top side, and particularly in the underside. Soldering galvanised sheet material is not one of my strong points, but a friend in Norfolk copied the original (less the holes) and all is now well.

A new cam-follower had to be turned up to the correct size of ½ inch diameter, because someone had previously used only ⅜ inch, which would have chattered rather badly, so it was discarded. The cam gear was severely worn down, to points on the teeth, on the position where it strikes on firing each time. The carburettor (or ‘carby’ in Australia ) proved to be no real problem, it just needed a good clean and polish. On checking the handbook I noticed that there should obviously be a non-return valve on the suction side, so the internal ore had to be cleaned out and a suitable ball bearing added.
The piston rings were extremely well worn. Fortunately Trevor Maddock, an advertiser in Stationary Engine Magazine, was able to match them for a very reasonable price. So with the majority of new parts collected together, along with a repair job to the magneto body and a new set of contact points, all was well.


Part 3 – Making the Trolley
While working on the engine side of the project, my mind was working out how to design a trolley, complete with ‘cupboard’ on which to mount the cooling tank. The cooling tank had been purchased from a friend, who saw a particular shaped bin in an army surplus store. It was quite possible the liner for a public litterbin, but no matter what it was, it was ideal for my application.
I like to fit bearings on the axle, to make it easier to push around. So with all that taken care of, red oxide and black lustre were used for the trolley and for the engine, a good machinery enamel to the correct colour, matching the original 1937 paint found under the removable parts.
(Since Patrick Knight published the first ‘as found’ photo last October. I have had several answers from Australia telling me about the past of this particular engine, which helped me to, among other things, establish the date as 1937).


Part 4 – Getting it Together
Many, many hours have been spent between October 2003 and early March 2004. I did start logging the hours, but gave up in case I should have been spending some of that time on decorating the house.
Saturday, February 7, was the big day for the engine: after lots of work and still in red oxide, it started with just a few minor adjustments, and ran perfectly for a couple of hours, which was very rewarding. While still warm the head was tightened down.

The next job was to clean down the engine with methylated spirits and set about applying three good coats of gloss paint. Bear in mind that this was still winter, the workshop had to be heated for a couple of weeks.
Ken Cuming is a name you often see in the Stationary Engine Magazine. I’ve known Ken for a good while now, so I contacted him to arrange delivery of a suitable decal, which I quickly applied to the cooling tank.
So after all that, I now own an unusual MV2 and look forward to proudly rallying it. One last note to all those who assisted me in the project in any way: Thank you all and thanks to Lynne who made all the cups of tea to help make a job like this all the more enjoyable.