Category Archives: Bristol Hercules 216 Aquired

Another Bristol Hercules joins the collection

The Big Day, First run of the 216

On the 27th September 2014 we asked a few friends and Bristol Hercules fans to come along and enjoy a beer or two and a bit of a Bar BQ.

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Brian Mills brought his 216 along to keep ours company..

We had a practice start the previous night just to test all of the control systems and we developed a major oil leak from the prop hub. So there was only one thing to do, put a pair of head torches on and strip it down in the dark!

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The problem was the seals that the four actuating rods go through wear split, luckily we had some spare ones from the other prop hub.

Here is a clip of the first start up and you can see when the oil seals let go, as the oil gets sprayed all over the exhausts.

This next clip is the final run of the day when we had both 216’s running together,  now that is a moment in time everybody there won’t forget in a hurry. Brian had a bit of a technical start up issue, he forgot to turn on the fuel, easily done as we made the same mistake the previous night!

After the final run we retied to the marque and enjoyed a few beers and food.

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Peters wife Jackie did a great job of the cakes they look familiar!

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Also the table decorations consisted of a Cylinder , Sleeve, Cylinder Head and Piston from the 264, Thanks again Jackie for your green finger touch.


For all you Bristol Hercules buffs you may of noticed that our 216 was running a bit rough! well to tell you the truth is was only running on 8 cylinders!. There was not a lot we could do about it on the day but we found out that it was one of the mags was hardly working and the upper ignition harness was badly corroded and had water in it. That’s what happens when you leave these old girls outside!!!

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On first inspection, the upper ignition harness was corroded and seized into the distributor top on both sides.

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There was only one way to get it off and that was to brake it off!

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We chain drilled the remnants out with the view of making a new insulator.

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But as luck would have it , in and among our 264 parts we acquired when we got our first 264 there was a lower ignition harness for a 216! with one good magneto connector on it.jet art 002 jet art 010

Because we only had one harness to Mag connector we contacted Chris at Jet Art as we new he had one new mag and a few good serviceable ones. We acquired the new left hand one and a good right hand one. A big thank you to Chris on letting us have a good look round his big boys sweetie shop.

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Oh and look what we found! a Tornado F3 that Pete had flown in his RAF career, we thought we better not bring that home as the Gillian and Jackie might not of been to pleased!

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Once we had the new magnetos, we stripped down one of them to retrieve the missing connector.

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Once we got the coupling off, we slit it down the the side and teased it apart to get the coupling out.

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We got the upper harness removed then stripped it down.

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As you can see there was evidence of water everywhere!

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Once stripped, the upper conduit was fully dried out.

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Threading the new HT cable down the conduit was straight forward, just follow the instructions in the manual and label them as you go.

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Now you can fit the spark plug conduits and elbows.

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Now we can fit the spark plug insulators.

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Its a bit fiddly, but one you get the hang of it, it doesn’t take to long to complete.

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After fitting the magneto flexible conduit, it was time to terminate the magneto connectors.mag_harness 029

We fitted a set of plugs and tested it we the new magneto and a cordless drill drive! It.

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Pete made a nice little puller to remove the automatic advance unit of the back of the old magneto.

Once we had fitted the replacement magnetos and rewired harness, there was only one thing left to do, test it.

So sit back and turn the speakers up and listen to a Bristol Hercules running on 14 cylinders , we peaked at about 2000 rpm and -2 psi of boost.

The last job to do before we start building the new engine running stand is to connect up the constant speed unit control cable.

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As you can see the control cable had been cut off near the engine mount ring.

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After rummaging around the workshop I found an old Land Rover Defender wiper rack cable that had a eye at one end and a piece of power steering pipe that fitted over the cable and a length of Land Rover wiper rack tube.

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After stripping back a bit of the outer wound spring on the rack to reveal the center cable, I found that a piece of 3/16″ brake pipe fitted perfectly over the center cable and fitted inside the CSU outer control tube.

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After tinning the cables , the two parts wear soldered together.

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And there we have it, we have full control of the Constant Speed Unit.

Bristol Hercules 216 Arrives

We were aware of a 216 Hercules at the Yorkshire Air Museum and had seen it on many occasions. Via emails earlier this year we were told that they planed to get it up and running, which we offered our assistance in any way we could help, it  would of been a great sight at that museum to see the old Hercules running next to the Halifax. After a few months we had heard nothing so we decided to pop down and see the progress, to our surprise we were told that the engine was being removed from that site by the owner! We had a quick look at the condition of the engine as we were told it had been left outside for a year! We found that by looking through the exhaust stubs that the sleeves looked in good condition with no signs of corrosion even though we were told by a couple of engineers at the museum that they had looked at it and found that it was seized. We managed to obtain the owners email address and emailed him straight away to see if we could acquire the engine and get it up and running.  Well, Peter Blackburn who owned the engine and had lent it to YAM on long term loan in running order with with a full set of tools , exhaust and paper work for engine was not to pleased to say the least in how they had looked after his engine. The tools, exhaust and paper work had gone missing and they had left the engine outside! Anyway after a few emails he decided to let us buy the engine and get it up and running again.We have decided to attach a name plate in memory of his father who flew a couple of Hercules in WW2  attached to a Beaufighter in N Africa.

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Here we are collecting the 216 from YAM

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Forty five minutes later it’s back at it’s new home.

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As you see it’s all there minus the exhaust , starter and plugs.

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On closer inspection the internals of the engine look in pretty good condition and covered in grease!

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The first job we had to do was make a flange and starter dog so we could try and turn over the engine.

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Just a bit more machine work for Pete!, it took a full day but it was needed.

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Once installed we tried to move the engine and found that No One sleeve was the only one not trying to move.

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So we removed No.1 head and cylinder and then the engine turned over with ease.

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After seeing how much grease was inside the engine we decided to remove all the heads and clean the grease out.

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At this point we found out from Peter Blackburn that an engineer that worked for him called Michael Ferguson got the engine running to show Peters father which he loved here running again after so many years since his service in the RAF, then re-inhibited the engine. Sadly Michael passed away five years ago so it’s another fitting tribute to him that we get this engine running again, because if it wasn’t for his efforts this engine would of been scrap.

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The heads took only a Saturday afternoon to de-grease and clean up.

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Out with the tooth brush again and clean up cylinder one of dried up deposits and free off the cylinder rings which were in good condition.

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After cleaning up the cylinder, we lube it up, made a new “O” ring, applied som sealant and refitted the cylinder to the engine.Then we refitted the cylinder heads.

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Brian Mills a fellow Bristol Hercules restorer helped source new spark plugs and a starter, the starter is in serviceable condition just needs cleaning up. We are very grateful to Brian for all his help in sourcing parts and advice.

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As we planed to give the 216 a test run before the end of September, don’t no why we decided that but it’s always good to have a target date! we better sort out an exhaust system. a complete 216 Exhausts are very hard to find now so we decided to fit the front part of the 264 system and then fit exhaust stubs like fitted to the Bristol Freighter.

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A few of the inter connecting pipes were cracked, so we tig welded them up.

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On a couple of the swivel joints we heated them up to free them off to allow us to align them up. It’s a fiddly job but once you get into the order you have to fit them, it doesn’t to to long to fit the exhaust.

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After another Saturday afternoons work, just over half of the exhaust is fitted.