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Ruston Class 2 VEB Engine


Recent Photo


Status: Under Construction

Used at Lake Eildon from 1958 to 2006 as an emergency

electricity supply and provider of additional pumping capacity

The Eildon hydro-electric power station was commissioned in 1956-57, following the completion of the new and enlarged Eildon weir.  Shortly afterwards, it was realized that there was a serious design flaw with the electrically driven sump pumps and associated switch gear. They were situated just above the level of the tail race and while the capacity of the pumps was considered enough to keep normal water leakage at bay, in times of high levels of leakage or a mistake in operating the intake valves could produce more water than the pumps could cope with. 

With the pumps below the surface and out of action, the water would quickly rise, flooding the station and its two 60MW generators.  In addition, should both generators be out of action and the supply line between Eildon and Rubicon “A” fail, there would be no electricity to work any of the pumps.

Discussions between SEC engineers in 1958 confirmed that an emergency electricity supply and additional pumping capacity were urgently required. At this time, a large electrical supply plant from the diesel-powered Nhill power station in western Victoria became available. 

The plant consisted of a Ruston 6-cylinder diesel engine Class VEB Mark 2, engine number 307545, built in early 1950 and dispatched from the factory in Lincoln in October 1950.  This class of engine was produced between April 1939 and December 1962.  Each cylinder has a bore of 10¼-inches and a stroke of 14½-inches.  The engine weighs 13.33 tons and develops 360 bhp at a maximum of 500 rpm (396 bhp at peak load).  It was direct-coupled to a 300KVA Brush alternator and exciter.  The cost of moving the plant and re-installing it at Eildon was £2,650 and was completed by mid 1960.

In August 2006 a more compact plant was installed and happily the old plant has escaped the scrapper’s torch and is preserved at the Alexandra Timber Tramway on “long-term loan” from AGL-Hydro and is complete with its alternator, exciter and associated electrical switch gear.  The engine had run at least four times in the week prior to its arrival in Alexandra. 

The Ruston engine and generator exhibit will become part of a larger display as a tribute to the contribution made by hydro-electric power to the Alexandra district.