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Looking for info about W.A.S.P. (W.A. Steel Products) engines

Kaleb

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Long time no see everyone! A lot has happened since I last made an appearance here. I'm now living on the outskirts of Bendigo with much more space to work with. Anyway, I picked up a W.A.S.P. type 305 engine at a swap meet last Sunday. I had first heard about these engines several years ago when the man I bought my Lister LT1 diesel off back in Tamworth showed me one he owned.

They were made by a company called West Australian Steel Products based out of Belmont over in Perth. I heard that the company made almost everything in house, and got most of their raw materials as scrap metal taken from the wrecks of WW2 aeroplanes. I don't know much more than that, but I'm led to believe that not that many of these engines were made, and are thus somewhat rare. I believe the company also made compressors and air tools. According to an old newspaper ad there were water cooled versions of these, apparently even rarer still as I have never even seen a picture of one.

Does anyone else have one of these engines, and could anyone help shed some more light on the company's history, or how long they made these engines for?
 

cobbadog

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Sounds like an interesting little addition to the collection. I have heard of the name WASP but had no idea it was an engine. Would be interesting to see a pic of it too if possible.
Welcome back.
 

jayvee

Registered
I stand to be corrected on this, but my worn out search engine (memory) recalls there (possibly) being an article in a relatively early TOMM re this make of engine. :unsure: Start looking folks.
Like I said, I could be wrong.
 

Ray Freeman

Registered
I have a couple of them. I think Winchester is the full bottle on them. I've been to Fenton Airfield in the NT where they got the ally from. The remains of the furnaces are still there at the entrance. I believe they have closed access to it now but we had a good look around. I think WASP made pretty well everything bar the spark plugs and ball bearings. They were known for their compressors and after the war couldn't get engines to power them so they went up,melted down a heap of derelict bombers and used the ally to make the engines.
The factory was in Belmont and was later used by Tuf (sp) who were known for there drills. A friend of mine did his apprenticeship there.
 

Inter Bloke

Registered
I'm led to believe that not that many of these engines were made, and are thus somewhat rare.
Sorry to disillusion you, but they made "shedloads" of engines, compressors both single and V twin, and a myriad of other accessories. One of the Perth people has a very good display of W.A.S.P. products that I have seen at a few shows and it's very interesting to see the variety of products they actually made. My dad bought a compressor in the mid 1950s and it was in continual use until the early 2000s only stopped using it when it knocked out a big end. (its still up at the farm complete in every way). I have two other parts engines and also another complete engine that I think would run if I ever try to start it (given to me by a friend). I would recon that during the 1960s at least every second farm in WA would have had a WASP air compressor set or a WASP engine on an Auger or some other piece of farm equipment on it. I was told years ago, (but don't know if its accurate) that when they first started making compressors one of the reasons was that they had bought an imense amount of WW2 army surplus Harley Davidson motorcycle pistons at a government auction, and as they were setting up a mostly aluminium foundry they decided to build compressors to use up the supply of pistons they had. (hopefully Winchester or someone more knowlegeble than I will know if this is true or just a rumor)
Back during the 50s my uncle worked as a plane refuel-er at the Guildford airport and I remember him telling me that at one stage there was a DC6 cargo plane that ran between here and the Eastern states, and after loading whatever urgent cargo they had to shift they would load any spare space up with W.A.S.P. air compressor sets and fly them east, and for the return journey they would repeat the process shipping Lightburn cement mixers back here to the West.

They are a good engine although they have a reputation over here as having magneto problems ! Ours and the other 3 I have had close operational ties with never gave any real electrical problems, so I believe that is more operator error. One thing I am NOT fond of in the design though is there use of wedge dowls instead of bolts in some locations making them a bit awkward to work on sometimes.
I havn't ever seen or even "heard" of a water cooled version of these !

Goodluck with it, they are an interesting and a bit different engine !
Graham
 
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rodneyt

Registered
saw one last weekend in Rustic Gallery,
( https://www.facebook.com/robbosrusticgallery )
one of my favorite haunts when visiting the big smoke.

it was the only item i couldnt find a price on, but everything is for sale, not give-away.

seems to only be missing muffler and flywheel.
dont know if air compressor belongs to it, but note both have 3-belt pulleys.
does anybody recognise compressor make?

cheers Rod.IMG_20200120_142829_771-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142840_078-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_143004_373-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142829_771-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142840_078-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_143004_373-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142829_771-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142840_078-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_143004_373-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142829_771-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_142840_078-b20pc.jpgIMG_20200120_143004_373-b20pc.jpg
 

rodneyt

Registered
please excuse if duplicate images, i did add/insert, then saw the 'insert all, so clicked that but didnt see any change, so clicked it again, still no change, so went and clicked 'full image' for each image, then posted. after posting there 3 or 4 sets of the 3 images, so i went back and deleted most, but maybe did too many, so clicked 'insert all again' hey a bit like yo-yo!
 

Inter Bloke

Registered
For those not "in the know", the little air compressor in most of the photos is also a WASP product, and most likely was driven by the engine. The engine has the triple v belt pulley supplied when driving the compressor.
 

Eric Schulz

Registered
Last Subscription Date
09/02/2009
The water cooled Union engine is a mystery. The attached ad is all I have ever seen about it. This ad only appeared once. This engine, going by the description, was not a water cooled WASP, but a different design.

Eric

Union.jpg
 

Scotty 2

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How much were other 3-4hp engines of the era? The price may be why there's not may (if any) of the water cooled engines about.
 

Winchester

Registered
Yes well Rodney the compressor is the WASP 8 cfm model . The engine bits are the early model alluminium cowling .Later models had a sheet metal cowl. Later models had a die cast carburetor and a fibre cam gear. I know full well about the cam gear ,I machined quite a lot of them and also stuffed a few up!. The fibre gear ring was riveted on the the cast iron cam shaft The 16 cfm compressor was just a different crank case with vee formation 8 cfm cylinders . I was an apprentice at WASP,stayed two more years after my initial 5 years. During that time I was absent doing my National Service in RAEME . WASP was a very busy place when I started there which would have been in 1951. I was given the apprenticeship by Basil Jenkinson. Basil was a clever man . As some one has already said there was a need for a method of drilling holes in fence posts ,Basil saw the need for a portable compressor and an air powered drill ,the engine and single cylinder would be mounted on two wheeled reciever to make the unit portable. There was not much in the way of small engines available and what seemed to be available were only BSA units and the supply of these dried up. So Basil decided to make his own engine . I dont know much about the Union Engine ,I think it was something the Basil was playing about with in the early days in his Midland workshop. Not everything was made in the WASP factory in Faulkner Ave Belmont[ I had to ride my push bike from Sth Perth out to this address when I started there !Two Pounds ,seven and six a week !. The crank shaft for the engine was made by HADWA as were the connecting rods . There were in a unmachined form and that was done at WASP. The magneto HT coils were wound somewhere else out side WASP.Small items such as condenser and contact points where also items from out side ,every thing else was made under the factory roof at Faulkner Ave . There were some very clever people at WASP , a lot were from the UK and Europe ,remember that this was in the early fifties and not long after WW2 ended . There were trades men from the UK ,Holland ,Latvia ,Italy ,those from Europe were from displaced persons camps and bought with a lot of skill . I can remember one in particular ,Mick Hannass ,I think he was from the Ukraine ,Mick worked a Herbert auto lathe, he built a very nice house directly opposite the factory ,and he was a watch maker! Another Peter Rohan was a skilled artist ,he built his house next door , the was Ivan a toolmaker ,Eddie ,a Dutchman who made all the patterns for the engine castings . I can remember one man who arrived fresh from the UK ,collar and tie ,white dust coat he had come from the British navy torpedo establishment ,he was a tool room turner, there were many more . A couple that I remember well were Miles Tomlinson who one of the very first that Basil employed, Miles was a speedway rider at Claremont Speedway ,he rode a sidecar outfit built by another employee Arthur Hurst ,Arthur was instrumental in the development of the WASP 305 engine . Arthur was also very handy in building speedway sidecar outfits , his winning out fit was powered by a unit using two Manx Norton cylinders and valve gear and a Harley Davidson crankcase .. I had by that time an Austin Seven ,Arthur showed me how to increase the valve lift.
I stayed at WASP for seven years ,the business was gradually closing ,they tried to make many new products ,even furniture . One man Colin Hales ,who started there as a tool setter ended up as a the manager and to give him his due ,tried everything to keep the firm going. He and I had a disagreement , I was the last of the apprentices there ,I stayed that extra two years ,Hales and I had the disagreement so I left.
This diatribe may not have answered your questions ..........it's a long time ago and in that time much has happened .
If there is something in particular that you wish to know about WASP let me know.
BTW I have a WASP 305 engine and a 8 cfm compressor also the wheel mounted air receiver. I also have engine parts list and drawings . Some people would turn their noses up at a WASP engine and Compressor however congrats to you for your interest.
 

Winchester

Registered
Just a couple of things that
Yes well Rodney the compressor is the WASP 8 cfm model . The engine bits are the early model alluminium cowling .Later models had a sheet metal cowl. Later models had a die cast carburetor and a fibre cam gear. I know full well about the cam gear ,I machined quite a lot of them and also stuffed a few up!. The fibre gear ring was riveted on the the cast iron cam shaft The 16 cfm compressor was just a different crank case with vee formation 8 cfm cylinders . I was an apprentice at WASP,stayed two more years after my initial 5 years. During that time I was absent doing my National Service in RAEME . WASP was a very busy place when I started there which would have been in 1951. I was given the apprenticeship by Basil Jenkinson. Basil was a clever man . As some one has already said there was a need for a method of drilling holes in fence posts ,Basil saw the need for a portable compressor and an air powered drill ,the engine and single cylinder would be mounted on two wheeled reciever to make the unit portable. There was not much in the way of small engines available and what seemed to be available were only BSA units and the supply of these dried up. So Basil decided to make his own engine . I dont know much about the Union Engine ,I think it was something the Basil was playing about with in the early days in his Midland workshop. Not everything was made in the WASP factory in Faulkner Ave Belmont[ I had to ride my push bike from Sth Perth out to this address when I started there !Two Pounds ,seven and six a week !. The crank shaft for the engine was made by HADWA as were the connecting rods . There were in a unmachined form and that was done at WASP. The magneto HT coils were wound somewhere else out side WASP.Small items such as condenser and contact points where also items from out side ,every thing else was made under the factory roof at Faulkner Ave . There were some very clever people at WASP , a lot were from the UK and Europe ,remember that this was in the early fifties and not long after WW2 ended . There were trades men from the UK ,Holland ,Latvia ,Italy ,those from Europe were from displaced persons camps and bought with a lot of skill . I can remember one in particular ,Mick Hannass ,I think he was from the Ukraine ,Mick worked a Herbert auto lathe, he built a very nice house directly opposite the factory ,and he was a watch maker! Another Peter Rohan was a skilled artist ,he built his house next door , the was Ivan a toolmaker ,Eddie ,a Dutchman who made all the patterns for the engine castings . I can remember one man who arrived fresh from the UK ,collar and tie ,white dust coat he had come from the British navy torpedo establishment ,he was a tool room turner, there were many more . A couple that I remember well were Miles Tomlinson who one of the very first that Basil employed, Miles was a speedway rider at Claremont Speedway ,he rode a sidecar outfit built by another employee Arthur Hurst ,Arthur was instrumental in the development of the WASP 305 engine . Arthur was also very handy in building speedway sidecar outfits , his winning out fit was powered by a unit using two Manx Norton cylinders and valve gear and a Harley Davidson crankcase .. I had by that time an Austin Seven ,Arthur showed me how to increase the valve lift.
I stayed at WASP for seven years ,the business was gradually closing ,they tried to make many new products ,even furniture . One man Colin Hales ,who started there as a tool setter ended up as a the manager and to give him his due ,tried everything to keep the firm going. He and I had a disagreement , I was the last of the apprentices there ,I stayed that extra two years ,Hales and I had the disagreement so I left.
This diatribe may not have answered your questions ..........it's a long time ago and in that time much has happened .
If there is something in particular that you wish to know about WASP let me know.
BTW I have a WASP 305 engine and a 8 cfm compressor also the wheel mounted air receiver. I also have engine parts list and drawings . Some people would turn their noses up at a WASP engine and Compressor however congrats to you for your interest.
Just a couple of things I should mention, there certainly was a lot of ally scrap piled up ,I dont know about the Harley Davidson pistons . The engine pistons were alluminium ,the compressor ones were cast iron . Both were cast in the WASP foundry. The engine and compressor were given a ''Run In '' period . The twin 16 CFM compressor was bench run in. Of course the air receivers were all hydro tested, Under the WASP roof at Faulkner Ave there was the admin office,the drawing office , the machine shop, the assembly area , tool store and parts store . A welding shop and the foundry. At the rear of the premises there was a sausage factory ,many of the workers could buy their favorite sausage there.
In my last few months I was a travelling repair ,service man for WASP . I used my Ford Prefect. Pity WASP folded.
 

Inter Bloke

Registered
in the early days in his Midland workshop.
Winchester, My brother got an old WASP compressor head from our uncle and from memory I think it had a Midland address on the WASP tag. This compressor has a different style head on it to all the other WASP compressors I have seen so I am assuming it was built before the move to Belmont. Lew also never had a WASP engine but did have two BSA engines, just wondering , did they actualy "build" a different style compressor with a BSA engine on it ?
 

Winchester

Registered
Firstly Interbloke would you accept my humble apology for the delay in answering or attempting to do so , your question. I hope you will understand that in those days I was just a young lad climbing life's long ladder and in retrospect should have been more interested in the goings on at WASP but of course other pursuits occupied my mind.
However I will do my best to recall those early days . Basil Jenkinson had his small work shop in Midland and did his development work there of the prototype WASP single cylinder compressor. He had a friend ,George Holmes who had a small ''Back yard '' foundry in Green mount, a hill suburb just out from Midland. George did castings for Basil and was later a member of the WASP board when it became a public company, he of course was instrumental in the establishment of the foundry at Faulkner Ave.
The only thing that may have been different on the cylinder head you speak of would have been the delivery valve and the unloader . Pity you dont have a picture . When things started to go bad at WASP they started to do work for Chamberlain. It all became very messy, the board sacked Basil who then started another venture Millwauki Enginering. I dont know what the outcome of that was but I do recall that the building was just down the road from WASP and was clad in blue glass, Basil was always flamboyant!. I had long since departed for the eastern states. On my return to WA many years later I did meet up with Miles Tomlinson, on of the very early WASP employee's Tomy had started his own venture ''Hydredco''.
There is a man in Bullsbrook ,Jeff Chantler who did have a a complete collection of the WASP products .P2040002.JPGP2040002.JPGP2040003.JPG
 

Attachments

Inter Bloke

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Firstly Interbloke would you accept my humble apology
There is a man in Bullsbrook ,Jeff Chantler who did have a a complete collection of the WASP products .
Apology accepted (didn't really expect an instant reply )
Yes, it's Jeff Chantlers display I remember seeing probably back in the "90s"
I had a bit to do with some of the "Whiteman Park" crew back in those days and remember Jeff's display well !

I have always had a soft spot for W.A.S.P. products going back to my younger days because of my family's ownership of some of their products, but will admit to not knowing the history of the company well.
I will borrow "the Missus" camera and try and take some photos of my brothers compressor head and ID tag when I am up their next (yes he still has it although he hasn't used it in about 15 years) and post it here. so don't be surprised if this thread gets resurrected in a few weeks !

Thanks,
Graham
 

Darryl

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I’m a Jenkinson and have heard of Basil in my childhood so have some kind of connection but only remembered when I read about the WASP in the TOMM. All the old man’s generation is now dead and the last one died before Christmas at 97 yrs old with an extraordinary memory but I didn’t think to ask him about the subject. Thanks Winchester.
 

Winchester

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I’m a Jenkinson and have heard of Basil in my childhood so have some kind of connection but only remembered when I read about the WASP in the TOMM. All the old man’s generation is now dead and the last one died before Christmas at 97 yrs old with an extraordinary memory but I didn’t think to ask him about the subject. Thanks Winchester.
Yes well that is interesting Daryll , so you are related to Basil!. I was not aware that Basil may have been an ''Easterner''. I never knew what happened to him nor to the other employee's as I was out of the country for some years . There possibly would be some around of my vintage . I hope you can obtain some WASP products ,with your family connection it is important.
 
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