Eric's Fancy Nameplate in the BW&CWCo style

Eric with the 2002 Formula Student racing car

Eric Brain

 "Thermodynamic Automotive Technician (Retired)"

Eric in the engine test cell....!!!

"If you don't succeed, at least destroy all the evidence which shows that you tried.........!"

Former Work Address:

University of Bath
 Department of Mechanical Engineering
 Claverton Down
United Kingdom

E-mail -  <ericdotbrain@btinternetdotcom>
(anti-spam : replace each "dot" with a full stop)


By way of introduction, I am a Retired Senior Technician  having previously worked for more than twenty three years in the former Thermodynamics Laboratory (Automotive Group) of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. until February 2006. This involved working with students and postgraduates on teaching and research work, mainly concerned with petrol, diesel or compression-ignition internal combustion engines and related topics, initially with the late Professor Frank Wallace.
Specific interesting projects that I have helped with over the past years include the Square Four configuration  "low friction" diesel engine, the series of prototype two-stroke Ford 900cc diesel prototypes, the excellent Coventry Climax two-stroke H30 diesel, and a prototype small 1.8 diesel with Electronic Unit Injection. Then there was a novel Rotary Piston engine, some VVT diesels, and at the other end of the thermodynamic sphere, I worked with Dr. Alex Moulton on his coal-fired, flash boiler steam engine. In between, of course, there was always plenty to find to do with the ongoing development of vehicles for the Diesel, LPG, and Solar power categories of the Shell International Mileage Marathon (now known as the EcoMarathon, ) and more recently, (and undoubtably the most interesting and rewarding of all!) the single-seat racing cars for "Team Bath Racing", the former BURT (Bath  University Racing Team)  the University's annual entry in the SAE Formula Student competition.

four stroke combustion

I grew up in the haulage world and have always had a "soft spot" for lorries and engines, having learnt to drive on three Albion Chieftains before passing my driving test in one of the first hundred pre-production Rover 75s. Until coming to the University, I was employed for twenty three years in a large paper and packaging engineers in central Bristol. This included apprenticeship, the assembly shop, ten years of travelling "on the road" on service and installation of heavy machinery, and finally I became an assembly foreman/site supervisor for a 190,000 sq ft stores, spares, goods inwards, and transport facility on another site three miles away from the main factory. The firm closed its UK operation in 1982, inevitably soon after a merger with an American company.

In 1963 I fully rebuilt a 1930 Austin Seven Saloon called "Myrtle"; my wife and I have covered many thousands of miles in it since then although currently it is still laid-up awaiting some attention during my retirement. Always having been keen on interesting cars, I have owned quite a diversity of other makes and models.  Some examples include a series of Austin Healey Sprites and MG's, a Sunbeam Alpine S2, an AC 2-litre, and a 1930 ohc Morris Minor before moving up to Volkswagen by way of two Sciroccos Mk1a & Mk2, each characteristically different but both excellent in their own way.

1950s Albion FT37CL Chieftains

From 1987 and for fifteen and a half years, I owned a VW Golf Mk2 1.6 Driver bought new.  However, time moved on and around Christmas 2002 I was seduced by a newer, sleeker VW, a 1996 Polo 1.4 SE "OpenAir".  The 'three year plan' of keeping it until retirement stretched somewhat but time took its toll and it has been replaced by higher technology in the shape of a 2007 SEAT Ibiza 'Sport'. Still a VW under the skin and so far has exceeded my expectations even though I neither need, or indeed use, or even pretend to understand the reasoning behind some of the "gadgets"!! It drives 'nice', goes well; that's all one needs.
Sadly,  I have never owned an original VW Beetle, which I consider equal only to the Austin Seven, still the best all-round cars ever designed and made.

(1987 Volkswagen Golf 1.6 Driver Mk 2)                 (1996 Volkswagen Polo 1.4SE "Open Air")

  (2007 SEAT Ibiza 1.4 Sport)

Having been delighted for over twenty years by two excellent air-cooled Fiat 126s , (well, they are a sort of "half a Beetle" and a modern day equivalent of an Austin Seven!) I moved on to a Fiat Cinquecento (which was really for my wife; she would say "when she was allowed to use it!").  It certainly did everything we needed it to, although in over five years of ownership the number of other vehicles I actually managed to overtake had only just reached double figures when I sold it, the majority of those being electric milk floats!! It had unbelievable carrying capacity, just to see it loaded with twelve wheels and racing tyres for the University of Bath  Formula Student Racing team, you would know what I mean!! However it has been replaced by a Seicento Mia. Equally as good as the Cinquecento but in a different way; as basic as one can get; no PAS, no gadgets, no electric anything, - not even a radio - and like all the small Fiats, an absolute delight to drive. It is utterly reliable as well.

(Fiat Seicento 'Mia')

My main hobby is an all-absorbing interest in  Vintage Stationary Engines , those simple oil-fuelled workhorses of a bygone era before the days of the National Grid. Over the years since 1970, I have restored many of these engines for display at shows and rallies, sold a lot (many with later regrets!) but there are currently around forty in my collection. Some are very rare types, British, American and French, even Chinese! but my favourites and my speciality are undoubtedly the "Victorias" made from 1906 upto about 1920 by the Bristol Wagon and Carriage Works Co. Ltd.

The computer enhanced logo of the Bristol Wagon & Carriage Works Co

(Computer enhanced facsimile of a BW&CW nameplate)

Random Writings
Because I enjoy writing about historic engines and researching the history of the companies which made them, I mainly contribute regular features to a national, indeed "international" magazine, the Stationary Engine Magazine , to a specialist magazine called Farm & Horticultural Equipment Collector (sadly now  incorporated into "Tractor & Machinery") , and in the past to Classic Plant and Machinery  . I have also contributed to the Newsletter of a local club, the Wessex Stationary Engine Club Ltd. of which I am a Founder Member, past-Chairman, past Newsletter Editor, past-President and now, for my sins!, Honorary Life Member. I am also a sometime member of the Bristol & S.Glos Stationary Engine Club which I helped set up some years ago.

Wessex Wyvern logo of the WSEC Ltd

(Wessex Wyvern logo of the Wessex Stationary Engine Club Ltd)

Other publications I have contributed to include:-

"Old Stationary Engines" 2004, 2008/2009 edns. by D.W.Edgington ( Shire Books),
"The A-Z of British Stationary Engines" Kelsey (1996-1997),
"Lister A & B types Story" (2008) by David W.Edgington.
"Victoria" by Tim Macaire (1991),
"Les Constructeurs Francais de Moteurs Stationnement Agricoles et Industriels 1890 -1950", Volumes 1, 2 and 3  published 2002, 2004 & 2006 resp. by Claude Ouachée.
"Southern Cross" - A section on "Victoria-style" engines in a history of the products of Toowoomba Foundry in Western Australia by Rob Laurent and published by BlueFlyer Publications.

I also assisted with "Rule of Thumb", an interesting biography of a true engineer of the 'old school', the late David Curwen, who at 96 was still working! and which was published in December 2006.  I  have a chapter in a book on local families - "The Wyatt and Cox Families of Nempnett Thrubwell and Chew Stoke ", a private publication by Guy Parfitt.

For many years I have also been compiling an "in-depth" history of the Somerset former coal mining village in which we live and where my mother's side of the family has been already traced back to the early 17th century.  It is so "in-depth" in fact, and due to other things cropping up, (the garden, and occasionally being a volunteer Response Driver for Secret World Animal Rescue in Somerset,) that I fear this epic may never get finished.....!

In between, all this there have been a couple of contributions to the Journal of the British Chelonia Group, one article of which was recently included in an anthology of chelonian articles entitled "Tortoise Talk" by Jenny Fensom, published 2008. In 2009 I was interviewed on camera for a DVD entitled 'Bristol at Work' and more recently made a podcast of reminicences for the Avon Wildlife Trust's Folly Farm site

It all keeps the mind active!

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." Dr Seuss



Helmut - a male spur thighed tortoise

Chelonia are reptiles with a hard or horny shell - Tortoises for example!

Click here to view my Tortoise Links Page

Stationary Engines

Petter Standard Oil Engine from early 20th century

From a sales trade card from the Yeovil factory around the early part of the twentieth century, this is a typical Petter Standard Oil Engine.

click here to view my  Engines Links page


The 1930 Austin Seven Sports - later known as the "Ulster"

click here to view my  Motorcar Links Page

Miscellaneous Interest Links

Wessex Stationary Engine Club

Bristol & S.Glos Stationary Engine Club

Stationary Engine Magazine

Internal Fire Engine Museum   This Museum in West Wales houses a very large collection of internal combustion stationary enginesand a visit is a MUST!.

Team Bath Racing

Fiat 126

Folly Farm (Wildlife Trust)

Fairdiesel (Biography of Charles Redrup 1878-1961)

Secret World This animal rescue centre in Somerset came close to closure in  December 2001, but is now flourishing and expanding. Please give it your support.

The Green Sparking Plug Co

Topanga  The Tortoise Garden - Tortoise Sanctuary in Cornwall  sadly forced to close to the public 2012 due to blatant and unbelieveably idiotic burocracy !!

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 (Thanks and acknowledgements to all the other webpages from whom I have unashamedly 'stolen' the various delightful animations on these pages!)

Last Updated  ..... March 10th 2012

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(Pages compiled from 1995, and constantly updated)