All Revved Up


Excited by the invention of the automobile Henry began working on combustion engines, and by 1898 he had taken out a worldwide patent on his combustion engine.

“The Sutton heavy oil engine” as it was called was used not only in Henry’s cars but was also commercially sold both here in Australia and overseas.

“The Sutton heavy oil engine” was demonstrated at the 1904 St Louis world’s fair where 160 automobile manufacturers from around the world exhibited their cars.

Apart from his combustion engines and carburrettors a number of other inventions of Henry’s were introduced into motorcar practice worldwide at the time, such as the exhaust valve lifter and the method of controlling the quantity of charge admitted to the cylinder.


Henry first considered building an electric powered engine to power his vehicles but quickly ruled this out due to the weight of the batteries needed to power the vehicle.

Henry was quite certain though electricity was the best power for trains and trams to run and correctly predicted that Melbourne tram system would become electrically powered.

Henry next turned his attention to different fuels and conducted exhaustive tests in safe fuel burning in engines, petrol at that time was very volatile and unpredictable whereas kerosene was a much safer fuel to use.

The advantages at the time of running on kerosene were that it was cheaper, cleaner and kerosene was available everywhere, whereas petrol was volatile, expensive and not easily available.

After deciding to use kerosene for his combustion engine Henry first attached them to bicycles and motorcycles and in 1899 he built his first engine for motorcars.

Henry designed a number of different size kerosene engines which were used in motorcycles and automobiles, they were also used in industry, in farm machinery, tractors, motorboats and for electric lighting.

By 1904 improvements had been made and Henry’s engine became the only one in the world that ran solely and successfully on kerosene, it could also be adapted to petrol cars and motorcycles.

By 1906 improvements in engines and the safer use of petrol in cars and the wider availability of petrol saw the demise of kerosene for use in cars but kerosene was still used for industry and farm machinery.