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Swan Generating Set

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Here we have a ‘Swan’ generator set that I got about fifteen years ago. The guy that sold it to me said it was military and certainly a number of features pointed to that being true i.e. the bronze green paint, the connection terminals were the same as used on military lighting sets, and perhaps most compelling, the fact that the spec included brass drain off cocks for the sump and gas tank (after all who else would specify costly additions like that?)


On the other hand there was not one piece of hard evidence in the form of a tag to confirm it as military and all attempts to identify it as military or otherwise failed at that time.







I last ran it perhaps eight years ago and it’s been gathering dust on the workshop shelf ever since. In fact I wouldn’t have given it a thought were it not for seeing a photo posted on the forum by Steve D where in the background was a gen set looking very much like mine as far as I could see. It spurred me on to research again and since I last tried a couple of sites had popped up with the answers.


Turns out it is military and is a bit of Cold War memorabilia. These were built by two different companies for the Royal Observer Corps who manned posts which included an underground bunker. Their main role was to report nuclear bomb bursts and monitor background radiation from installations like this:




Lighting in the little underground bunker was provided by batteries like these.




If I’m not mistaken those are NiFe cells with a pd of 1.2 volts, hence the crate of five cells represents a 6 volt battery. Two of these provided the 12 volts for the lighting and the need for a 12 volt charging system. The batteries remained in the bunker and were charged from the surface outside.




The gen sets were made either by A C Morrison (Engineers) Ltd of Southampton or Engine Applications Ltd of Banbury. Documents refer to the engine as Villiers but it is in reality a JAP (Villiers having absorbed JAP in 1959). It drives a three phase permanent magnet alternator rated at 300 watts and the case contains full wave rectifier diodes to produce the DC output.


So there you have it – if you see one at a show you’ll know what it was for. The name ‘Swan’ for the Banbury produced version came from their address in Swan Close Road. The company was founded in 1959, became RTD Swan in 1973, and Swan Generators in 1986. They still make generating sets at Banbury today but nothing this small, their range is 20kVA to 2200kVA.


Some photos are from these sites


http://therocproject.webs.com/  and




where you can find out more if interested.




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Sorry to drag this thread back from the dead but I've just got back from picking one of these up. I was only supposed to be picking up the Allam Minigen that I won on ebay but the guy said 'are you interested in this...?' 


Well, you know how it goes...:D

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This is the genset I have it has a JAP engine, I have never tried to start it but it turns over freely. The tube on the left of the first picture is for storing the starter cord which is missing,




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