1941 Ruston Hornsby

During the Summer of 2006 I ‘participated’ in stripping and rebuilding the engine to enhance its performance – which means of course, making it cleaner (not faster). I thank goodness for The Internet when it comes to finding a replacement rocker mechanism and push rod for a 1941 Ruston Hornsby 2VSH, water-cooled, 2 cylinder, diesel. I’m still having a few problems with the engine about which I’ll be posting details later, including the amusing and slightly embarassing story about why I needed to replace the rocker mechanism in the first place.

Ruston Hornsby

The company, Ruston & Hornsby, is now a part of Dorman Diesels owned by Perkins Engines.

14 thoughts on “1941 Ruston Hornsby

  1. I have a 2VSH which I am hoping to restore. I has stood for quite a while, but the project looks promising. Trouble is, I’m missing the manifold(s). Does anyone know of where I could hope to find such items?

  2. You’ve got a real engine there. I have fitted 2 to nb’s and have several more to restore. Ray is a great guy and always helpful.

    Have you heard of the Vintage Marine Engine Club (VME) they can be very helpful

  3. Hi Alan,

    I totally agree with you it’s a great engine, my pride and joy, and Ray is a great guy. Coincidentally, as you were posting your comment I was working on the engine with James (a diesel fitter)- fitting the new head gasket that Ray provided. For a few seconds as it was turning over, before it fired up, the compression was excellent on both cylinders. It seemed that we had cured the problem of it only firing on one cylinder. Then, alas, it fired up and the gasket gave way in the same place as before, which suggests that the cylinder head is warped. So, the next step is to send the cylinder head to be skimmed, contact Ray for another head gasket (and shims), and try again. Oh, I also need to replace a snapped fuel pump securing bolt. I’m not remotely dispirited. It’s worth it – it’s a great engine.

    I haven’t heard of the VME. Do they have a website? Do you have contact details?

  4. Just a point, when you fitted the new head gasket I assume you checked the bump clearance and used a soft soap as a gasket sealant? I would be very surprised indeed if you can warp a Ruston cylinder head they are very tough. Make sure also you cylinder bolts have not bottomed giving the impression that they are tight down. I also use a torque wrench just to make sure

    I may be advising the experts here but I just thought it may help

    regards and good luck

    A VME website will be http://www.stychbooks.co.uk

  5. Hi Alan,

    Your advice is very much appreciated. I’ll pass your comments on to James as he fitted the gasket and tightened the head down. I must confess I’m very surprised that the head appears to be warped but it’s blowing from the exact same place as the previous gasket which does suggest a warped head. I’ll ask James whether he checked the bump clearance and about the gasket soap and I’ll let you know.

    Sorry about delay posting pics of alternator drive arrangement. I’ve had no time. I have asome time on Wednesday afternoon so I’ll definitely get the pics then.

    Thanks for the VME link but there seems to be an error somewhere as the website isn’t found.

    Are you working on a RH engine restoration at the moment?


  6. Sorry the web link appears broken.

    The club can be contacted at:

    The Vintage Marine Engine Club Contact: Kevin Whittle 1 Sytch Lane Waters Upton Shropshire TF6 6NT Tel: 01952 541880 Fax: 01952 541844 …

    Kevin has produced 2 excellent books relating to vintage marine engines. The Ruston has a section. Both books make great presents and are good reference information with plenty of engine tips.
    My old 3VSH is still running sweetly, we took her out for a run last weekend. I have a service to do shortly on the 2 VTH, I service about every 250 hours. It needs it to. With just the simple oil filter arrangement the oil is very black and of course the sump collects most of the suspended heavy particles.

    My current project is a 2VSH, it’s extreamly mucky but thats the best way to find them, plenty of grease and grime to protect the innards. The previous one I restored was an ex coal mine 2 VSH loco engine, what a pain that was. Everything bent or busted having been previously mended by a big hammer. It’s back at Butterly railway now and ready to go into the Ruston narrow gauge loco.

    The loco is my friends Brian, he also has a canal related website see above.

    regards Alan

    • Hi Alan,
      How are you getting on with the 2VSH restoration? I’m currently seeking a complete set of 20 thou undersized bearings. Do you know of anywhere that I can get them?

  7. Another great bit of advice from Alan Perry …

    The Bump clearance is the gap between the top of the piston at TDC and the cylinder head. The Ruston manual explains what this should be and the way this can be checked.

    It can be adjusted by fitting or removing copper shims from the head gasket. Too much clearance and the engine will be retarded, too little and it will knock.

    Try Google for more info on ‘diesel bump clearance’

    The Ruston should have between 0.89mm + or minus 0.06mm

    It is normal to use soft lead solder between the piston and cylinder head, you then rotate the engine with the head bolted down and then remove the head and measure the lead solder with a micrometer to check the clearance. Adjust the clearance by shimming.

    This may be an issue for you as a small clearance will also cause the valves to hit the piston and may even try to deform the head.

    Thanks again, Alan.

  8. Hi there. Just found this place googling for 2VTH’s so I hope you don’t mind me posting?

    I have a 2VTH in my narrowboat and have just emailed Ray for some details on it. I have the parts books already and somewhere stored safely I have some parts that came with the boat.

    I’m having problems getting it started at the moment and I’m a complete engine novice (and I mean novice!) but I found someone who was willing to spend a few hours with me over the weekend to bleed it and show me what’s what. It ran beautifully for a couple of days and now nothing again. I’ve got someone coming over this week for another look to see if I’ve got a leaky something somewhere. Typical as I want to move to my new moorings!

    When it does work it sounds fantastic and it’s been a pleasure to go out on the boat. Now I’m worried that if I get it going I’ll get stuck somewhere like Trent Lock and then be stuffed for finishing off the cruise to my new place.

    If I run into trouble still with the engine don’t suppose you know anyone in the Notts/Derby/Leics area that you could recommend for a service?



  9. Hi Sarah,

    I’m sorry to say that I don’t know anyone in that neck of the woods who can help. I would recommend that you ask Ray. I’m sure he’ll know. Perhaps someone else will see your blog post and get in touch.

    The problem that you’ve described sounds like it could be a fuel blockage. I had a blockage at the fuel filter. Replacing the filter cured the problem.

    Do you have any pictures of your boat and engine? I’d like to see them. If you have a website or blog of your own I’d be happy to link to it.


  10. Hi Sarah

    I have a RH 3YCM in my narrowboat in its own engine room but the fuel tank is in the stern with the fuel pipes running just above floor level, and I had starting problems. I found that the lift pump as fitted was allowing the fuel to drain back slightly and the fuel system had to be bled everytime I needed to start the engine. I overcame this problem by installing 12volt car fuel pump which is connect to 12v at all time thus keeping the fuel system under pressure and therefore primed at all times. I can now after a three month break start the engine on its third or fourth revolution. (Be carful which pump you use as the surveyor will need to know that it has all metal parts. The one I use is for a Jaguar car and cost about £26.00 ten years ago. Purchase it from a motor factors not Jaguar unless you have won the lottery of course) Hope this may be of assisstance

  11. Hi Chip,

    I have to do the same with my 2VSH … 12v lift pump turned on during ignition. I hope Sarah has sorted out her problem, perhaps she’ll let us know.


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