D a y s G o n e B y . . .


MEMORIES OF A PITT OIL ENGINE

My parents owned the Post Office and store at Boundary Bend in Victoria, from approx 1925 to 1954.

The 8hp Pitt Oil engine was purchased prior to World War II from a packing shed at Nyah West (a dried fruit area, 40 miles south) where it caused the death of a man. I was told that he had his head through the spokes of the flywheel when the magneto tripped, causing the engine to fire. Dad set up the Pitt, driving a 2 inch billabong pump to pump water for his small orchard and house, from a billabong just over the Murray Valley Highway.

As a small boy I spent many hours by the billabong with a make-believe engine made from cast iron wheels, other scrap, and a banana box that I hit with a stick to make a noise like the Pitt. It was probably about 1946 when Dad purchased a 4hp Sundex from a neighbour. I remember he dragged it home with our 1924 Buick 4 cylinder and then repaired and painted it with dark green paint. He then set up the Sundex on the other side of the pump so he had a back-up in case of breakdowns. Both engines were used for many years. Once, the Pitt bent a conrod and broke the big end bolts and the rod had to be straightened by a local blacksmith.

To my memory the Sundex only broke down once when it sucked the inlet valve in, and bent it to an "S " shape. A new one was ordered from H. V. McKay and it was soon going again.

It was only last year that my older brother Bill admitted that he was watching the Sundex running when he couldn't resist the urge to pull the pin on the valve to see what would happen. So the mystery of the bent valve was solved, approximately 45 years later. I remember the Pitt had 2 brass plates - one, the name plate; the other, with the agents name Buckeye Harvester, Melbourne.

In approximately 1954 the property was sold to my sister and her husband. The Pitt was removed from its foundations and left lying for some years when a scrappy blew it up with gelignite. The Sundex was sold to another store keeper - Max Vane, who left it where it lay for many years until Max's death, and I then lost track of it. Maybe a reader has it restored and running again?

The good looking kid in the photo above, is me, taken in about 1948. The photo on the right is of Dad - Bert Hopcroft, at about the same time. The Billabong has since been officially named Hopcroft Billabong, which makes sense, because when we were kids we thought we owned it.