1941 Carlton Reach

Petter's "Atomic" Diesel Engine

(Now at Kununurra Museum :^)

Post date: Oct 24, 2013 11:7:27 AM

 Since locating and researching the provenance of Petter's 36 HP "Atomic" Diesel Engine, 

KHS member volunteers have worked at trying to make the engine more accessible (to all! :-) to go on display at the Kununurra Museum, to help show the local, State and National significance of tropical agriculture on the Ord and in the Kimberley Region.

On April 12th 2013, that research work resulted in great success, when the historically connected engine was donated to the Kununurra Historical Society by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA - Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture, formerly the Kimberley Research Station (KRS), where the engine was also in use until the 1950s.

The Petters 36 HP - Carlton Reach Pump Engine in place at the Kununurra Museum on October 24th 2013

KHS Archive Number - KHS-2013-124-P-BD

Note that the original river loam is still embedded in the fly-wheel and outer belt pulley wheel, left there when the engine was removed from the Ord River east bank at KRS, by Murray Shiner and one of his excavators, some years ago. A request was made when moving the engine this year, to leave this in place and amazingly this soil has remained in place throughout the various movements to get to the museum grounds.

[It was the intention to leave this dirt in place, to help tell this story, however, this may need to now be removed to prevent further rusting.If so at least here, that story is remembered, with photographic evidence. - AB 23 X 2013]

[For detailed information go to the KHS Carlton Reach Pump Engine RESEARCH page.]

Why is this engine significant?

 The engine was used for the first experiments with irrigation for tropical agriculture, at Carlton Reach, on the Ord River. pumping from what was the Kimberley's largest waterhole. It was used by Kim and Bill Durack, who also described and wrote of the engine, as "the heartbeat of activities" at the Ord River Experimental Farm. In 1946 the engine was relocated to the Kimberley Research Station, where it was in use until at least the time of the Ord in flood during 1956, when the engine went underwater, temporarily.

Where is the engine now and where will it go (and how)?

At the time the engine was at the old KRS site in view of the Ord River - You can see photographs of it as it was on this page.

KHS now has this original Carlton Reach pump engine by the entrance gate of the Kununurra Museum.

What's That Thing? - ABC Kimberley - Web Page and Radio Interview [March 2013]

  Before the engine was officially donated to KHS, Vanessa Mills of ABC Broome did a radio segment, "What's That Thing?", featuring KHS research on the Carlton Reach Pump Engine - See the web page - ABC Kimberley Radio Interview in March 2013 - About the "Petters Atomic Diesel Engine and listen to the audio from there.

[See http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2013/03/18/3718139.htm?site=kimberley]

Moving the Petters Engine - September 3rd 2013

 The 36 HP Petters “Atomic Diesel Engine” was moved once again, from the west bank of the Ord at the Frank Wise Institute of Tropical Agriculture (formerly the Kimberley Research Station - KRS),on September 3rd 2013, after the engine was gifted to KHS by the Institute's Director, Mr. Noel Wilson, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), earlier this year. With great appreciation from the Kununurra Historical Society, the engine was moved once again, by John McAuliffe (“Banjo”), of Argyle Engineering, with thanks also going to Kimberley Industries for use of their crane.

The Petters Moves Again

This engine is no new-comer to being moved, originally from the UK Petter plant it was shipped to Western Australia and was reputed to have been used, possibly for power generation, somewhere along the goldfields pipeline before 1941. Late in 1941 the Public Works Department (PWD) shipped the engine to Wyndham and flew up Mr Cook, a fitter from the State Implement Works to install the engine at Carlton Reach for the new experimental station, being set up to be run by Kimberley Michael Durack.

 With the realisation that most of the irrigable land in the Ord valley was blacksoil, the engine was moved from the alluvial soil site of Carlton Reach to the new Kimberley Research Station (KRS) site in 1946. In recent years the engine was removed by Murray Shiner, with an excavator, rescuing it from burial in the east embankment of the Ord. This was close to the KRS pump site, and the engine was placed by Murray, higher up to the top of the bank, onto an existing concrete pad, where it had remained until now.

  On September 3rd 2013 it was moved once again to the Argyle Engineering workshop, where a frame for the engine to be mounted on was engineered. The base is being engineered to be moved again (by forklift), for example to be displayed at the Agricultural Show or other events.

The engine, mounted on the new steel base, was brought to the museum on October 16th 2013, using Argyle Engineering's truck and forklift. Cracker-dust to fill the area was supplied by Guerinoni & Son on October 22nd, who also moved the engine into its present position, by the front gate.  Our great appreciation and thanks go out to all who have made this possible, including Noel Wilson, the Department of Agriculture and Food WA, John McAuliffe, Argyle Engineering, Kimberley Industries, Neil Butcher, Barry McKinlay, Steve Guerinoni and staff from Guerinoni & Son.

[For detailed information go to the KHS Carlton Reach Pump Engine RESEARCH page.]