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Aero Engine - Aubrey Lock & Azor Robbins, 1910 Object Reg. No: ST 034912

This four-cylinder, horizontally-opposed engine is one of the earliest aero engines to be built in Australia. It was designed and built by two young motor mechanics, Azor D. Robbins and Aubrey Keith Lock. Robbins was employed at Dalgetys Garage in Bourke Street, Melbourne while Lock was an apprentice with Herbert Thomson's Steam Car Company in Armadale. They had been approached to build a 50 horsepower (37 kW) aero engine by Lawrence Marshall, a Melbourne inventor who was building a biplane to compete for a Commonwealth government prize of £5,000 for a military aeroplane. Lock and Robbins worked on the engine part-time in Richmond and subsequently at the Dalgety's engineering shop in Melbourne. A total of forty cylinders were believed to have been cast by an outside foundry from which the four best were selected. Despite this, the cylinders fractured during a bench test and Marshall refused to pay for the engine as it did not deliver the promised 50 horsepower.

It was later repaired by Lock and acquired by Azor Robbins and a business partner Alex Porter, who had built a Bleriot-type monoplane in Albury, New South Wales. Robbins and Porter had moved to Albury from Melbourne in 1911 opening their own automotive business at 532 Kiewa Street. The engine was reported to have been displayed at the 1912 Albury Show. Their aircraft is believed to have made several short flights in July 1913. The aircraft was subsequently sold to Blacklock's Garage in Dean Street Albury where it was later destroyed in a fire. The engine was salvaged by Aubrey Lock who kept it at his Melbourne house until his death in 1966. It was donated to the Museum, in pieces in 1978. Since then it has been reassembled and conserved to retain as much of the original finish and components as possible. The basic horizontally-opposed layout of this engine is still used by most light aircraft today.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Donald Shanks, 1978
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 420 mm (Height), 1040 mm (Width)
Weight: 80.5 kg (Weight)
Dimension Comment: Weight provided in 2002 conservation report

More information

Tagged with: aero engines, internal combustion engines
Themes this item is part of: Pioneering Flights at Diggers Rest, Victoria, Centenary of Australian Aviation, Engineering Collection, Transport Collection
Primary Classification: AIR TRANSPORT
Secondary Classification: Aero Engines
Tertiary Classification: reciprocating propeller engines
Maker: Mr Aubrey Lock, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1910-1911
Other Association (See Comments): Mr Herbert Thomson, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1910

Aubrey Lock was an apprentice of Herbert Thomson, Engineer. Thomson built the Thomson Steam Car ? see ST 024990.
References: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4MAE77z4q8

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