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B537 Aero engine with propeller, three cylinder rotary, designed by Lawrence Hargrave c.1911, made by Geoffrey Hargrave, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1911. Click to enlarge.

Engine made by Geoffrey Hargrave, 1911

The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences holds the largest collection of material of the aviation pioneer, Lawrence Hargrave. While the invention of the aeroplane can be attributed to no single individual, Hargrave belonged to an elite body of scientists and researchers (along with Octave Chanute, Otto Lilienthal and Percy Sinclair Pilcher) whose experiments and inventions paved the way for the first powered, controlled flight achieved by the Wright Brothers on December 17, 1903.

This …


Object No.


Object Statement

Aero engine with propeller, three cylinder rotary, designed by Lawrence Hargrave c.1911, made by Geoffrey Hargrave, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1911

Physical Description

Three cylinder engine mounted on two steel posts that are bolted to a wooden rectangular base. One post is stainless steel, the other is steel. The wooden propeller is made from timber laminated from four sections, which is shaped as one piece with a centre hole. The hole has been covered with plywood and bolted on with 6 bolts.

Bore: 4 inches
Stroke: 4 inches
Valves: Cam operated exhaust, automatic inlet in piston head
Cylinders: Machine cast iron, integral head, no fins
Conrads: Bronze
Carburettor: Fabricated from thin sheet of brass
Ignition: Magneto with single spark plugs to each cylinder and driven by exposed brass spur gear




This radial rotary engine was designed by Lawrence Hargrave at Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales, Australia and made by his son Geoffrey Hargrave at Woollahra Point, New South Wales, Australia around 1911.



Geoffrey Hargrave most likely produced this copy of his father's three-cylinder radial rotary engine while he was a student at the Sydney Technical College. Correspondence between Lawrence Hargrave and Professor Barraclough, dated 1912, indicates that the engine suffered a broken crankcase and that in 1914 it was fitted with a new one. In 1928, the engine was transferred to the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences from the Technical College.

Geoffrey Hargrave was the only son of Lawrence and Margaret Hargrave, born March 21, 1892. Like his father, he took an interest in invention and was encouraged to pursue studies in engineering, which he did at the Sydney Technical College during his late teenage years.

Geoffrey showed particular prowess in maritime technologies and sailing, as well as aeronautics, and he designed and constructed a number of models including this radial rotary engine. During Geoffrey's teenage years, Lawrence made a number of maritime vessels for him, sometimes as a reward for his hard work at college. One of these was an eighteen-foot sailing craft made from tinned sheet steel. It took Lawrence 3 months to build (or 495 hours). The hull weighed 300 lbs and the vessel carried lugsails on three masts.

Soon after the outbreak of WWI, Geoffrey was enlisted to the army in a mounted unit, but later transferred to the infantry as a machine gunner. At the beginning of 1915 he sailed for Egypt with the 2nd Australian Expeditionary Force (under the nickname 'Stirrups'), but was transferred again to the Dardanelles in the same year. It was here that Geoffrey was killed in action on May 4, 1915.


Credit Line

Gift of Sydney Technical College, 1928

Acquisition Date

19 November 1928

Cite this Object


Engine made by Geoffrey Hargrave, 1911 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 May 2022, <>


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