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Petter PH and AVA Engines || Wyn Lees

By Laura Bateman 3 years ago 2453 Views No comments

Last week I had an interesting conversation with Laura (who works in the marketing team) regarding our vintage engine spares. We then got onto talking about my history with the PH engines and my interest towards them. After finding the PH operations handbook, she wanted to source some information to create a blog.

I [Wyn] said to her, ‘I have a story to tell and here we go’...

When I was a lad in the 60’s (can you hear the violins playing?), I worked for Bill Langston, (an ex Petter field engineer) on the counter at Reliant Plant Services. I remember the fitters coming in and I would serve them spare parts for Petter, Lister and Villiers engines. The PH1 was a very popular engine, as it was the upgrade from the Petter AVA1.

From a distance the parts for both the PH and AVA engines looked identical. However, the parts had their own distinctive features, once you had a closer look at them. I could always recognise the difference between the two cylinder’s due to their cooling fins. They were slightly tapered on the PH, but, on the AVA they were straight. Also, the PH engine had a larger bore - another way to tell them apart!

(PH Operations Handbook)

There were balance weights that fitted onto the crankshaft, they were plain on the PH engine and grooved on the AVA.

(PH Operations Handbook)

There were numbers stamped onto the fuel pump which helped to distinguish the difference between the two engines. I knew how to identify them, as the PH engine finished with 80 whereas the AVA engine ended in 70.

We had Bryce reconditioned pumps that came back from their agents after they had been repaired.The PH pumps had green plastic protection caps and the AVA would have had red.

I can still recognise most of the part numbers that are in the operators handbook even now, 50 years on!

We used to receive reconditioned engines directly from Petter’s. When they arrived on the lorry we would lift them off by using chain blocks. We would unscrew the rocker box nut until it came off, then screw on our modified rocker box nut that had a lifting ring welded onto it. Bear in mind the rocker box stud was only ¼” BSF and the PH was a heavy lump! (But, we never lost one!)

Petter's PH1 engine fitted with a Newage PR 40M gearbox and a Borg & Beck clutch, was especially popular back in the day! You would find it on most 15 & 22 CWT (hundred weight) dumpers!

At Reliant I found the main dumpers fitted with PH engines were:

- Winget 2S 15 CWT (Slater and England)
- Benford
- Thwaites
- Liner
- Barford

Other machines with PH engines fitted to them were:

- ACE Comet 10 cwt platform hoist
- BHC Ant Queen platform hoist
- 3” Wickham pumps
- Drilling Rigs
- Saw Benches
- And many more!

P.S. I [Wyn] is always looking to buy job lots of Petter PH1 spares, as well as PR 40M gearbox spares in small or large quantities.

If you are looking for any vintage spare parts for your engine, we have a wide range of genuine parts available. If you cannot find the spare part you need on the link below, please call or email our sales team and leave a message for Wyn to contact you!


‘Graces Guide to British Industrial History’ is full of interesting history about companies and products, particularly in British engineering. Please find their website link below.