The Sunshine Challenge

My wife, Maree and I decided one day to try a search and rescue trip along the Murrumbidgee River between the Murray River and Balranald, a small town in New South Wales, Australia. The idea was to make a few calls along way to see if there were any old engines available for restoration.

We set off for a long hot drive in temperatures over 100 degrees. At the first property we called on we found a friendly, helpful reception but no engmes. He suggested we try his brother 20 miles further on. By the time we got there he was already expecting us (new travels fast in these parts). Here we found only an old steam engine with too much missing for worthwhile restoration.

Hitting rust

At our fourth call the owner of the property only had a 70hp MacDonald which he wanted to keep but, I showed him my albums with before and after photos of my engine restorations. This prompted him to invite me down a creek where we found an engine on its side with one flywheel under 6in of silt.

It was the rustiest engine I have ever seen.

On close inspection we found the name plate: "Sunshine Type O, 6hp, Manufactured by H V McKay". It was a Sundiesel. These engines are a Brons Cup Type diesel made by or for H V McKay, Sunshine, Victoria - a company now owned by Massey Ferguson.

The owner was willing to part with it. I explained that it might be beyond restoration but could help others who needed crankshafts or crankcases for these engines. He provided his frontend loader to get it loaded.

I offered to send him a photo if it got restored. Unfortunately I had forgotten to take my camera so I didn't get a photo of it in the creek.

The restoration

It was 90 mile trip home and the very next morning I started dismantling. I first removed the inspection cover to reveal an interior looking as rusty as the outside. Then off came the head - surprise - though rusty, the bore and the valves looked fair.

The cylinder was then removed, followed by the flywheels. It was three days of hard work before the first one came off, followed two days later by the second. It was at this stage that I discovered that a transporter given to me two weeks previously was the right one for this engine. This made my mind up go ahead with a complete restoration.

The engine was cleaned using a four inch angle grinder, then a sanding disc and then filled and painted. The valve seats were ground and the piston cleaned. I didn't remove the rings because they were in good condition. The crankshaft was even better, it only needed a clean.The injector was put in the lathe and the valve seat recut. I then made a completly new valve and lapped it in. All the governor linkage was missing. I had no idea what it looked like, so I borrowed one and spent many hours making a new linkage. A new fuel tank was made and the engine reassembled. After much searching the five sight feed oilers were found.

The engine was fueled and oiled and belted up to a Bamford. I was amazed, it started almost immediately. After the first couple of starts she handled OK.

I was expecting to rally the Sunshine at the Junction Rally at Wentworth in July - just three months after the recovery.