The British built Petter diesel is a storied brand but not well known here in the U.S. The Petter began in 1892 when twin brothers Ernest and Percy Petter grew up enough to branch the family foundry business off into the engine business. After a short foray into high-speed steam engines, the duo began working on internal combustion engine designs and eventually developed 1-2.5 horsepower horizontal hot bulb oil engines. They are also reported to have built England’s first internal combustion-powered motor car in 1895.
In 1901, the Petter brothers then set up a branch of their father James Petter’s business and began producing a more advance line of oil engines from 1.25 to 22 horsepower. About the time James Petter died in 1910, the company had reorganized as Petter Ltd, a public company. Responding to an influx of Fairbanks-Morse engines from the U.S., Petter designed a new TVO (Tractor Vaporizing Oil- basically kerosene mixed with gasoline) engine called the “Handyman” that was both inexpensive and effective. This set the company on an upward trajectory in both oil and gasoline engines and later diesels.
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