The Commando range of engines was made during the 1950's and possibly 1960's in Australia. I've never been able to trace the actual company that manufactured them as they were re-badged by every man and his dog such as:
- Werner Machinery - QLD
- Sardik Engineering - NSW
- Houghton and Co. - VIC and SA
- Tasmania Orchadists - TAS
There were three engines that I am aware of in the range. I own a working example of the 3.5 HP engine. It runs fine but it is the noisiest smokiest two stroke I have ever seen - it even rivals the Maytag of US for most disgusting engine to run ever! The engine uses a home grown carby, and the ever present Lucas RS-1 magneto. I bought mine attached to a great belt driven river side pump - I did not want the engine, but for some reason kept it - even cleaned it. The engine has a very unusual starting crank very much like a motor-bike kick starter. To start, you press the crank in to engage a large gear on the main shaft, then turn 1/2 turn, after the 1/2 turn the crank disengages - makes the damn thing REALLY hard to start when it is out of tune.
It is interesting to note that from the photos, the 3.5HP 2 stroke and the 4HP 2 stroke seem to use the same set of bottom end castings and even share the same carby when used as a stationary engine! Must have been challenging to build.
17"h, 12.7"w, 50lbs
I've never come across one of these
Speed 1,000 to 2,000RPM
20"h, 14"w, 87lbs
Semi Marine styled - used as outboard engines
Speed 880 to 2,400RPM
19"h, 20"w, 100lbs
Ugly and smelly - what more could you want?
The following message was sent by Mark Kennedy
Subject: Commando Engines (Aust)Date: Mon, 01 Nov 1999 11:46:32 +1100From: Mark Kennedy Reply-To: To:
Following some research on the weekend at the Victorian Government Public Records Office, I have uncovered the following details of the company that made COMMANDO engines in Melbourne.
The original company, John Buncle & Son, was founded in 1854 in Melbourne. In 1875 the company operated the Parkside Ironworks in Flemington Road. The company had relocated to 19-21 Wrecklyn Street, North Melbourne by 1900, where it remained until 1950.
In this time, the company manufactured a wide range of agricultural equipment. Although I did not discover when engine manufacture commenced, ads show that a range of petrol engines up to 4HP were offered in the 1950s.
The company relocated to 138 Barkly Street, North Fitzroy in 1950, where it remained until it was voluntarily liquidated in December 1958.
the Sands & McDougall directory lists the company as being both "famous" and an exporter of agricultural equipment.
A 1955 ad lists the company's product range as including, power mowers, ploughs, spreaders, 'Shave' 2 disk stump jump ploughs, feed mixers, poultry equipment, wheat augers, bulk handling equipment, harrows, cultivators, brick making moulds, concrete mixers, scoops, buck rakes, roller conveyor machinery and petrol engines!
The company went through several restructurings and name changes in the 1950s. The company name was changed to John Buncle COMMANDO Limited in 1950 with 2 subsidiaries - John Buncle and Son Limited and Commando Industries Limited.
Another firm, Commando Engines, ceased trading in 1948 and I was not able to ascertain in this visit if this was a subsidiary or a defunct company that Buncle's took over engine production from?
Interestingly, Buncle had a substantial share holding with 250,000 pounds capital. However, its trading profit for 1951 was 32,000 pounds but this had dropped to 8,000 pounds by 1952. The decision to liquidate was taken in 1956 as the directors believed that the company could no longer continue to maintain its business.
Regards, Mark Kennedy Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
In October 2001 Steve Green
sent me a photo of a nicely restored Commando outboard. Steve says "...Its I.D. plate rates it as 3 H.P. engine no is OB 7... I belive it to be around 1945 build.. Magneto is dated jan 1944. previous owner purchased it in 1946...". Steve should be congratulated on the magnificent job he has done in restoring this unit. If I make my Commando 3HP look half as good as Steve's I'll be happy!