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Bentall Engines


Bentall's were based in Heybridge, Nr. Maldon, Essex. The company was well established in the manufacture of agricultural equipment when in 1908 they decided to begin construction of their own range of engines. The Bentall engineers evaluated a number of other manufacturers engines before embarking on their own designs.

The vertical engine they built was similar to the American engines that were being imported at the time (the Fairbanks Morse engines spring to mind). Production started with 2.5, 4 and 7 HP engines that were later up rated to 2.5-3, 4-5 and 7-9 HP.

A plunger type fuel pump was fitted to these engines but was replace with a diaphragm pump in 1912 with the larger engines fitted with a "Patented Self Starter" which was recorded as an impulse device (fuel primer?) also an "unchokable Carburetor". Low tension magneto with points was an option on these engines but it is thought that there are no survivors of this engine/magneto combination. An elaborate paraffin vapouriser was also an option.

Early engines were painted maroon with black flywheels and gold lettering, latter engines were green with gold lettering, the same as the well known horizontal engines.

Engine production ceased in 1927 in favour of supplying other manufacturers engines with Bentall equipment. It is thought that amongst others, they supplied Petter engines.

Two Stroke Engines

In 1912, mention is made in a contemporary trade journal of a new engine made by Bentalls, a small hopper cooled 1.5 HP engine, no further mention of this engine has been found.

The Pioneer Engine

1912 saw the introduction of the range of 4-stroke 'Pioneer' engines. The 1.5 - 2.5 HP and 3 - 4 HP are the commonest engines in preservation but the brochures describe engines up to 10 - 12 HP.

The engine was an open crank design, hopper cooled with high tension ignition. They are well known for their complex oiling system that employed a reservoir on the side of the hopper with four wick feeds to the bearings and a needle regulator for the cylinder. They are also quite notorious for problems associated with the lubrication system. The problem was that dirt and dust could enter the system via the reservoir and find it's way through the pipe work, therefore blocking it. As the pipe work was all copper, it was difficult, if not impossible to see that one or more of the bearings was being starved of oil. Therefore catastrophic bearing failure was not uncommon.

Most engines were petrol models but paraffin and gas powered engines were also available (although the gas engines were less powerful).

Diesel Engine

An engineers notebook records a 'Burnoil' diesel engine with a horizontal, enclosed crank or 4" bore and 6" stroke and running at 500 RPM. A prototype engine was built which apparently ran for a few hours before the crank broke. No further mention of it has been found.

Bentall Register

The current register contains details of some 123 horizontal engines and just 26 vertical engines (worldwide)

The register is held by:

Robert Jackson

Bentall Engine Register

Manor Farm





The Bentall company closed down in the mid 1980's, the main factory is still in existence and (much modified) used by a number of companies including a large printing works but the original office block was replaced with a small shopping centre.


 © Mark Howard - 2006