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B2365 Petrol engine, stationary horizontal single cylinder, Sundial Type B, steel / cast iron, HV McKay Massey Harris Pty Ltd, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia, 1940. Click to enlarge.

Sundial petrol engine

Made in Australia, Oceania, 1930.
Small four stroke petrol engines like the Sunshine were used to drive a wide range of machines on Australian farms through much of the twentieth century: chaff-cutters, saws, pumps, lighting and shearing plants, milking machines and cream separators. They removed much of the drudgery of labour on farms before they were supplanted by electric motors; even then, engines were used on properties not connected to the electricity grid or at locations not served by a farm's power supply. Small petrol engines were also used in garages and workshops and by bush fire brigades.

The engine was made by HV McKay Massey Harris, which resulted from a merger between Australian firm HV McKay and Canadian firm Massey Harris. At one time Hugh Victor McKay's Sunshine Harvester Works was the largest factory in Australia, but to ensure the company's survival through the Great Depression it merged with the Canadian firm in 1930. The engine was made in 1940, during World War 2, when the aim of Australian manufacturing shifted from meeting domestic needs to serving the war effort, but engines were so essential to both spheres that their production continued.

The Sundial is fitted with twin flywheels, making it a compact and convenient power source as either wheel could double as a drive wheel. Its connecting rod, crankshaft and flywheel spokes are covered, a safety measure that was not standard at the time. These engines were advertised as simple, dependable, low in price and cheap to run. They had the additional advantage that a bolt-on kit was made by the manufacturer to convert them to run on kerosene.

Debbie Rudder, Curator, and Noel Svensson, Powerhouse Volunteer, 2013


Object No.


Object Statement

Petrol engine, stationary horizontal single cylinder, Sundial Type B, steel / cast iron, HV McKay Massey Harris Pty Ltd, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia, 1940

Physical Description

This hopper type water-cooled engine operates on the four stroke cycle, with spark ignition energised by a magneto. When viewed from the cylinder end, the valve cover is prominent. The air intake venturi is located below the valve cover, and a tube that delivers fuel from the tank is located under the engine. The engine is fitted with twin flywheels, and foldable handles are located in the flywheel rims for starting it. A centrifugal governor provides speed control. The exhaust pipe extends to the side and above the engine.

The top of the hopper has a cover plate to prevent debris from entering. The connecting rod, crankshaft and the flywheel spokes are covered to prevent entanglement. Such protection was desirable in engines used to drive sheep-shearing appliances.

The engine's output is two horsepower (1.5 kW) at 600 rpm. The compression ratio is 5:1 and the spark plug is activated by a high tension magneto. The fuel tank holds 3.3 litres and the cooling water hopper holds 6.6 litres. Cylinder bore is 101 mm and piston stroke is 115 mm.

In a catalogue of HV McKay Massey Harris agricultural machinery published in March 1942, the engine is described as follows: 'The cylinder head is of the hot, turbulent type, giving the finest fuel atomisation and heat distribution. The carburettor, of special design, has an automatic air valve controlling the amount of air. The supersensitive, high speed, flyball-type governor provides an ample range of speed.'


Painted on the left side of the engine: Sundial. On the brass maker's plate: SUNDIAL / No 6794. Cast into the valve cover: X1265 [a part number].



620 mm


270 mm



Australia, Oceania 1930


The engine was manufactured at the Sunshine Harvester Works of HV McKay Massey Harris in 1940.

Hugh Victor McKay was born in 1865 at Raywood in Victoria. He left school at 13 to work on the family farm at Drummartin. In 1883 he read about a US combination harvester, and the Victorian government offered a prize for development of a similar machine suitable for local use. Hugh set out to make a stripper-harvester with the help of his father and brother. In 1885 he patented it, even though James Morrow had patented a similar machine in 1884.

McKay called his machine the Sunshine Harvester, and it became the basis of his large industrial works. His brands included Sunbeam, Sunrise and Sunlight, and his company was so important that the town of Braybrook Junction, where the works was built, was renamed Sunshine. He built a steel foundry, bolt factory, sawmill and carpentry workshop beside the factory that housed the main production line, and the buildings eventually covered 30 acres (12 ha).
The Sunshine Harvester Works was for many years the largest factory in Australia and employed 2500 workers at its peak. Under JB Garde, who adapted the stump-jump principle to the American disc plough, it began producing a range of successful implements in 1905. McKay experimented with self-propelled harvesters from 1902 and made them from 1916, and in 1912 Sunshine began making internal combustion engines. The factory produced a combined seed drill and cultivator (invented by NSW farmer RA Squires) from 1917, a reaper-binder from 1921, and Headlie Taylor's self-propelled header from 1925.
HV McKay merged with the Australian subsidiary of Canadian firm Massey Harris in 1930. The McKay name disappeared when Massey Harris purchased the remaining family interest in 1955 and renamed the business Massey Harris Ferguson, subsequently Massey-Ferguson (Australia) Ltd.



The engine was used at the School of Rural Studies, Sydney Technical College.


Credit Line

Gift of Sydney Technical College, 1980

Acquisition Date

24 July 1980

Cite this Object


Sundial petrol engine 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 6 July 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Sundial petrol engine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=6 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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