"The Knife and Fork Man"              ISBN 978-0-9554455-2-1      biography by William Fairney

                                                                                                               Diesel Publishing     Tel. 44 (0) 1454 238 553


A very early designer of axial engines was Charles Benjamin Redrup, the engineer and inventor, who was born in Newport, South Wales in 1878.
Raised in Barry,he first designed and manufactured the"Barry" motor cycle with an unusual rotary supercharged engine, (below) and went on to design a range of engines, including a wobble-plate motorcycle engine.(Above)

In about 1898 he went to work briefly for Richard Stephens of Clevedon in Somerset, where he acted as after-sale engineer and chauffeur for Stephens' motor car business.

In 1913 he moved to Leeds where he designed and built engines for Vickers for their First World War aircraft.


After the war he stayed in Leeds and designed engines for motor cycles, cars, boats and buses.


He carried out most of his development work in a simply-equipped home workshop, and often said that he made most of his engines with little more than 'a knife and fork'.

In 1919 he designed a three-cylinder radial engine for motorcycles in partnership with Leeds motorcycle builder Monty Beaumont, and also sold the engines for industrial use.



This side-valve engine had a T-head and was fitted with two epicyclic gearboxes to operate the tappets. Note the extra tappet at the three o'clock position to drive the oil pump.

He designed radial engines for Avro in the 1920s and an aircraft powered by one of his engines landed on Helvellyn in the Lake District in 1926.

He was the inventor of the unique Wobble-Plate axial engine using a "Z-Shaft" which powered a motor launch and a Crossley Motors motor car in the 1920s.

A variant of the engine specifically designed for aircraft flew in a Simmonds Spartan aeroplane in 1929, and was exhibited at the Olympia Air Show in July of that year.


As a result of this exhibition he was engaged by the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company to design a 7-litre bus engine and several variants were used in Bristol buses in the late 1930s.


One of these engines was until recently on display in the Bristol Industrial Museum. (now closed for major re-construction).


During the Second World War Charles Redrup worked on top-secret armaments projects for the Lancaster and other aircraft, including the hydraulic drive
for the spinning "Dam Busters" bombs.

After the war he designed more motor-cycle engines and large 1,000 and 2,000 horse-power axial aero engines.

1946 Axial Motorcycle engine


Three-Cylinder Redrup 1948 Radial Motorcycle, now in the Sammy Miller Museum            1953 Axial Cam-drive 1,000HP Aero Engine

Charles Redrup's name appeared fleetingly in many reference works but no full description of his extensive and innovative work had been previously written.

This omission has been rectified by the publication of his life story,

"THE KNIFE AND FORK MAN", by William Fairney (Diesel Publishing)

The enlarged Second Edition has 40 more pages, 33 colour plates,over 200 black and white pictures, and is now with an Index. Since the First Edition was published three more Redrup engines have surfaced and there is now an exhibition of several of his engines in the Aerospace Section of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

The book is available by cheque for £18.95 plus £3.00 p&p UK, (£6 Europe, £10 Rest of the world)









Tel. 44 (0) 1454 238 553         

(This E-mail address is not Hyperlinked for Security Reasons)

and from the same Publisher, the amazing story of the man

who designed and built the First British Car with Fully Independent Front Suspension,

The book is available by cheque for £13.95 plus £2.60 p&p UK, (£5 Europe, £9 Rest of the world)


Joseph Johnson Fairney (1869-1953) received a classical education through the Cambridge University Education Extension Scheme and wrote essays and poems throughout his life. He was a keen observer of the economic effects of the First World War and wrote whimsically about the rise of Hitler and the follies of mankind. He was modest about his work, saying it was ‘Just my Doggerel’

The book is available by cheque for £7.95 plus £0.50 p&p UK, (£1.50 Europe and the Rest of the world)


© FairDiesel Limited 2006