Mearns Probus Club

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The first meeting of the Club, for March was held in the Crown Inn, Laurencekirk, and chaired by President Malcolm McCoig.

Before introducing the speaker, the president informed members that the oldest club member, Arthur Bruce, a life member and one of the founders, had died on February 28. The secretary then read a tribute to Arthur and his life and work in Laurencekirk throughout his 94-year lifetime.

The speaker was Phillip Hills from St. Cyrus, whose talk was on the Stirling Engine. It is a simple form of heat engine using a piston moving in a cylinder to rotate a crankshaft, which in turn provides mechanical energy in rotary form. No fuel is used, only heat, to expand the air inside the cylinder. By using a Regenerator the waste heat is recaptured and re-used to heat the air.

As steam engines were the only form of propulsion available at that time, and mainly used to pump water from the coal mines, the Stirling Engine was an innovation because of its much smaller overall size. It wasn’t until much later in the 19th century that internal combustion engines, running on liquid fuels such as petrol or diesel, that smaller, more powerful multi-cylinder engines were developed for road and stationary use.

Phillip also discussed other inventors around that time, Sir George Cayley and John Ericsson, who were also working on forms of propulsion, and it is recorded that Sir George Cayley even managed to make a flight in an aeroplane years before The Wright Brothers.

Two engines were shown by Phillip, one a horizontal and the other vertical. Both worked with the application of heat by a blow lamp and the vertically mounted one also drove a four-bladed brass fan on top of the engine. Both had been found by Phillip at Market Sales, one in Petticoat Lane in London and one in Taylor’s Auctions in Montrose. Douglas Lamb proposed thanks.