This is a transcript of a tape we made one dark night outside our lads' (Commer Pupils and Apprentices) flat in Studley Road, Luton in about 1967. At that time we must have had access to demonstrators because it was the fact that I had a Commer TS3 truck outside that inspired us to make the tape. I was the driver at the bottom of the road who, on being given the signal, thrashed up the road making as much noise as possible (not difficult with a TS3). The recorder was a tape to tape with the 240V lead stretched across the pavement which at one point tripped up a passing pedestrian. The script was read by Chris Woodwark (the posh voice) and myself (the normal voice). The intention, all those years ago, was to record the sound and details for posterity.
In the early 1950s the Rootes Group decided to manufacture their own diesel engine. The TS3 Story. For some years previously, a study of the various diesel engines has been made and it was finally decided that the two stroke opposed piston type of engine offered the greatest all round efficiency coupled with compactness and suitability for the forward controlled type of vehicle. The basic design was conceived with a view to providing considerable potential in the future and this has promoted a family of engines which has been developed during the last 20 years. Production started in 1954 and since that time Tilling Stevens, who have been responsible for not only the manufacture but also the design of the new engine have produced over 100,000 engines, which are now in operation on the roads of the world. The Rootes diesel engine is also available in marine form and power packs. A multi-fuel version of the engine has also been developed in recent years and further details of this are available on application to the factory. Design and development continues and Tilling Stevens engineers are continually striving to improve the product and in the years to come further versions of this engine will be produced with increased power, economy and reliability.
So that was the story only a few years ago. The TS3 Tilling Stevens 3-cylinder originally developed 95 bhp during the experimental stage.
To have the widest possible appeal Rootes Group designers considered it essential to embody the following fundamental characteristics to give a predetermined performance.
The TS3 is a high speed 3-cylinder direct injection 2-stroke unit with six horizontally opposed pistons actuating a single crankshaft through rocker arms. The porting is based on the Kaydency Principle and scavenging is assisted by a blower. By reducing piston side thrust to a minimum cylinder bore wear is almost entirely eliminated and as each piston acts as its opposing piston cylinder head, conventional cylinder head problems are completely alleviated. Power to wear ratio is exceptional because the design dispenses with a wide range of components such as the cylinder head, camshaft and valve gear etc. With the high thermal efficiency produced, foundation for minimal fuel consumption is established.
Here is a fundamental design, which lent itself to high power output, excellent fuel economy and with every indication of meeting the required standard of weight, bulk and reliability. Accordingly a number of prototype units conforming to these principles were designed, developed and subjected to bench tests involving thousands of running hours. They were subsequently installed in vehicles, which covered over a quarter of a million miles operating under the most arduous conditions including altitude tests in the Alps and cross country journeys in Africa. As development and tests progressed it became apparent that not only had all the basic objectives been achieved but additional qualities were brought to light, which proved indisputable evidence of the soundness of the project.
In 1964, BHP was increased to 117 with a torque of 310 lbs ft and this introduction coincided with the Commer Maxiload rigid 16 ton gross vehicle range.
Unfortunately, these increases spelt death to this revolutionary engine. High crankcase pressure and the emission of white smoke became an acute problem and on 15/4/1969 a service circular was sent out to all Commer Main Area District and Retail dealers offering generous warranty reimbursement. Eventually, it became necessary to derate the engine to 125 BHP and the 24 ton tractive unit, the C15 was withdrawn from the range in the autumn of 1969.
Previous to this, experimental department had been operating the TS3A Mk2 at 140 BHP and the Mk2 turbocharged at 160 BHP. It was quite amazing that with the same original block, an increase of 55 BHP could be achieved. Further development concentrated on the much talked about TS4 4-cylinder repulsed piston engine. Although only a few were ever built the dealer network was keen to market this unit. The figures obtained were quite phenomenal 180 BHP and a torque of 445 lb ft.
Whilst with other diesel engines on the market and increased financial stringencies all development was terminated. So from 1954 to 1972 the engine powered Commer vehicles and gave both the name Rootes and Commer fame, a total of 18 years service on the roads of Britain and indeed throughout the world for the benefit of the road haulage industry.
So this is the story of the TS3 as it happened and as it ended.
Contrary to Mr Woodwark’s statement the TS3 engine continued to be fitted in the Commer range until early in 1974.