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Fowler Petrol Engine Resources


John Fowler & Co. (Leeds) have been associated with heavy engineering since the early days of steam power. Initially involved in the production of steam powered vehicles and equipment, stationary engines were merely another smaller branch of the business. For a period of around thirty years prior to the production of the first Fowler engine, Fowlers bought many thousands of engines from other manufacturers, mainly Lister and Petter. These engines were built to a 'Fowler Spec', the usual features being extended crankshafts, air filters and a general cheap finish. These engines were built to a price and were used in great numbers to power cement mixers and other industrial machinery.

In 1934 Arthur Freeman-Sanders left Lister to join Fowler's diesel engine testing department. After a successful period in Lister where he design the A,B,D,X and JP range of engines he left after some amount of disagreement and quickly took up a post with Fowler. After many years of Fowler purchasing engines to sell, Freeman-Sanders decided it was time to push forward and successfully designed a range of diesel engines which was shortly followed by the range of petrol engines that were to be the P type range, (P for Petrol funnily enough !).

The P Series range of engines consisted of the PA, PB, PC and PD models of which Petrol only models (P) or Petrol/Paraffin (PP) were available. For example a petrol/paraffin 1PA series engine would be designated 1PPA and so on through the engie ranges. During wartime, the military utilised the whole range of Fowler engines as prime movers in a variety of equipment from pumps to compressors.

The production run of Fowler engines lasted less than ten years and with so many engines being exported it is surprising how many of the smaller engines remain in preservation today.

The Engines :-

  • PA - Introduced in September 1936 to fill a gap in the market and compete with Lister and Petter the 1PA was the smallest petrol engine in the range. Available in 3 sizes (petrol only), Low, Medium and High speeds designated (PAL, PAM and PAH) the engines were available in a speed range of 750 RPM, 1000 RPM and 1500 RPM producing 1.5, 2.25 and 3.75 HP respectively. The petrol/paraffin engines were rated 1.25, 1.75 and 2.75 HP respectively. The 1PA had a 3" bore and 3" stroke with white metal big end bearing shells and ballrace main bearings. The engines were available in tank cooled or hopper cooled form. The tank cooled engines are quite scarce and are not often seen on the rallyfield. Hopper cooled engines came supplied with two styles of hopper, a small capacity hopper the same width as the crankcase and a larger capacity hopper which overhung the crankcase. The hopper size was not model specific, but is generally thought to be the choice of the customer. I am sure at the time of purchase advice would be given from Fowler's as to the required capacity depending on the duties the engines were to perform.

    Please click on the thumbnails :-

    Engine A illustrates the Engine Dept photo from 1936 showing what is believed to be the first Fowler 1PA produced.

  • Engine B illustrates a 1940 engine with rare Wolseley pre-WD style silencer. This engine is identical to my restored engine.

    A. B.

    • PB - The PB series was introduced at the same time as the PA series engines to provide a range of engines with a much greater power output, filling a gap in the industrial market and to meet a demand from the MOD. The range initially consisted of six engines as follows, 1PBL, 1PBM, 1PBH, 2PBL, 2PBM, 2PBH offering 4, 5, 7.5, 8,. 10 and 15 HP respectively. The PB range, as is obvious from the engine model numbers, was the first range to offer either single or two cylinder models to suit a range of power and customer needs. The bore and stroke was 3.75 " x 4.5 " throughout. It is thought that the PB range was available in a range of specifications to meet customer requirements, such as special industrial air filters, lightweight flywheels and a range of pulleys. PB engines were sold in great numbers either for export or to contractors in the construction or quarrying industry. PB engines are quite scarce due to this even although it is thought more PB engines were porduced than PA's. During the production run, the single cylinder 1PB engines were discontinued to avoid clashing with the smaller PA range and newly introduced 'D' series diesel engines.

      Engines C & D illustrate the single cylinder 1PB range.

      Engines E & F illustrate the twin cylinder 2PB range.

      Engine G is the only single cylinder 1PB I have seen on the rallyfields (Scone Palace 2000)

      C. D. E. F. G.

    • PC - The PC range of engines was available in four sizes, the 1PCL, 1PCM, 2PCL and 2PCM. These engines were rated 6, 8, 12 and 16 HP respectively and were the largest engines produced by Fowler and probably the largest production hopper cooled engines available at that time. The PC range employed a bore and stroke of 4.5" x 4.5". Not many PC engines exist in preservation, it seems that due to more economical and fuel efficient diesel engines the PC range was not very successful. Diesel engines of a similar power output would easily compete with the PC range of engines and would in most cases prove cheaper to run and maintain. Unfortunately I don't have any good photographs of PC engines at present, however I hope to upload further information and photos as it comes to light.
    • PD - Believed to have been introduced around 1938 the PD is a essentially a PA engine with larger bore and piston and heavier flywheel. The bore and stroke in this case being 3.5" x 3" respectively. The PD range was available two sizes (petrol only) 1PDL - 2.5 HP at 750 RPM, 1PDM - 3.25 HP at 1000 RPM, and the petrol/paraffin range offered the following, 2 HP at 750 RPM and 2.5 HP at 1000 RPM. The PD engines were designed for applications that required smooth power output free from vibration and speed fluctuation. The PD provided this, and with the extra horsepower over the PA series was a good option for customers requiring economical power. Being the owner of a PD, the difference in power output is very noticeable, the exhaust note is much more purposeful that the little PA. PD engines appear only to have been supplied with the larger overhung style of water hopper to account for the extra output. It is my intention to rally my PD with one of my PA's eventually.
    Engine H illustrates a 1PDM compressor set of 1938. The heavier flywheel is clearly visible in this photo.