An Engine Like No Other!

You don’t need to be a mechanic or engineer to appreciate the genius, humour and fun in this exhibit. As long as you have a sense of wonder and curiosity, I’m certain you’ll enjoy this post 🙂

The setting is a very large hardware store in Invercargill named E Hayes and Sons Limited. Invercargill is in the far south of Southland so we’re talking right down the “bottom” of the South Island of New Zealand.

And this exhibit, displayed in the store is described in their brochure as Original engine, hand-built by Norman Hayes.

These are my photos taken 14 March 2018 when I was visiting the store.


PS. (27 Mar) : Young Benjamin in the comments below asked me if it runs. See my answer to him for more information and a link to a YouTube video of it running


This is NOT a Briggs & Stratton

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You can enlarge the above photo if you click on it.

The “Norman Hayes Engine” sign reads as follows:

Built by the late Norman Hayes in 1980.
Fuel tank is a pressure cooker,
float bowl is a preserving jar and
carburettor is a 1/2 inch brass garden tap.

The ignition comes from a trip magneto,
muffler is a bed pan,
brass toilet cistern is the water tank,
and a stirrup pump provides water cooling.

The engine concept is unique to Norman.
He would have had great difficulty with the rough finish,
because he was a self taught engineer and a perfectionist.


Here are some detail shots that I took:

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Text and Photos by Liz; Exploring Colour (2018)

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12 thoughts on “An Engine Like No Other!

Add yours

  1. “See Gem, it can run!” Benjamin is absolutely loving the video of the engine running. He has watched it over and over. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to search for an answer to his curious question. Norman Hayes was a very interesting man with an equally interesting family history. Thank-you x 2, again and again!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s an author called Robert Rankin who writes comedy sci-fi novels set in Brentford, England. One of his characters is a shopkeeper called Norman who invents things…largely in his kitchen I think…things like a perpetual motion engine. Your post just made me think of him.

    I was watching a TV show about Big Ben yesterday and was thinking about how amazed we all are about the workings of machines, and yet not so much with the workings of a smartphone where everything is done in microchips. Strange how we are awed by things we can see working, we kind of take a lot of modern stuff for granted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shopkeeper called Norman who invents things… how interesting Graham! I love things that I can see working like those clocks in clear cases that apprentices used to make to prove their skills. I think modern micro-electronics are dis-empowering in that you can’t hope to fix them yourself and void your warranty if you do. Thinking of car engines and how my Dad could do most mechanical stuff himself. My SO was reading something to me the other day about farmers in the US having to transport their huge John Deere machinery for miles to the nearest depot for maintenance as they’re not allowed to do anything themselves.

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    1. His grandfather was a notable pioneer / engineer / inventor in Central Otago. His father started the Invercargill hardware store, and Norman himself was with the company for over 60 years. Norman’s son Neville is now the Managing Director. This info I’ve taken from the company brochure that I picked up when I was in the store.,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Benjamin is fascinated by this engine and all of the different parts… “WOW, does it run?” I told him that they probably don’t run it inside. It is quite an amazing creation and I love the little warning sign. Thank-you x 2!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the question Benjamin. I wondered that too but hadn’t followed it up. I’ve just phoned them and spoke to Les Costigan who said “Most definitely!” and when I asked him when it was last run, he said “15 minutes ago!”. They run it 8-10 times a day (groups come into the store to see it). Les himself runs demos. He told me a video of it running is on the internet so I found that and here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyYznnQCVWY

      Liked by 1 person

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