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Working on something unique

Article by: Hannah Gannon in Engines , Projects - 26 January

One project we were recently entrusted to handle was that of an incredibly rare 1908 Napier racing engine that was one of only 3 ever made. D Napier & Son was a British engineering company best known for luxury motor cars in the Edwardian period and who also made racing and aircraft engines.

They had great success with racing cars and in 1927 provided the Lion engine that powered Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird to the world land speed record and did so on several further occasions in ensuing years. Our engine might not have been going after world records but still had speed in mind. 

We worked on the crankshaft and crankcase of this historic vehicle, one of the few remaining survivors of its type. We were awarded this project not only owing to our machining capabilities but also, and more importantly, because the technical experience of our team made us one of the few companies who could carry this out. 

To keep this particular vehicle on the road we manufactured new main bearings and re-ground the crankshaft. Firstly, the new bearings are created from bronze material that is then turned and white metalled. The bearings are then split and fitted to the crankcase. During this time, the crankshaft is ground and finally the crankcase is line bored to the correct size and clearance to ensure all works smoothly for many more years and miles to come.