Garrett Engine Company fonds [graphic materials, technical drawings, textual records]
Physical description6cm of textual records; approx. 97 technical drawings of engines; 7 photographs.
Administrative history / Biographical sketchIn 1959, Richard Garrett formed the Garrett Engine Company on Granville Island in Vancouver. In 1963, the company was folded into Gillen and Pike Ltd., an existing sales and service business that he took over as a means to provide a better cash flow. In the 1960’s, turbocharging of marine diesel engines was rare. A turbocharger makes use of the heat and pressure of exhaust gases of diesel or gas engines to provide more power, at reasonable cost and with little change to fuel consumption. Garrett was able to design and fabricate turbocharger conversions for over 30 fishboats and tugboats in the Vancouver fleet. The turbine itself was imported from Schwitzer Corp. of Indianapolis, but the flanges, piping and intercoolers required for the complete installation were custom made for each different size engine. Garrett developed a testing procedure using thermodynamic principles that accurately measured the horsepower improvement achieved, often as much as 50%. Many older boats got a new lease on life from this conversion. His clients included Vancouver Barge Transportation, Straits Towing, Kingcome Navigation, F.M. Yorke Towing, J.H. Todd and Sons, Evans Coleman and Evans, Viking Tug, and others. This engineering achievement was published in several magazines at the time, including Diesel Power & Equipment, Diesel and Gas Progress, and Design Engineering. This pioneering era was short-lived, however, since the available older boats in the Vancouver area were soon all converted. A few years later, in the 1970s, diesel engines could be purchased with factory-installed turbochargers. Garrett continued to install turbochargers in boats until the mid-1960s, then moved into the area of parts and service, and the turbocharging of smaller gasoline engines. His first automobile turbo was installed in 1965, in his own sports car, an Austin Healey. In 1966, he revived Garrett Engine Co. under the new name, Garrett Engine Air Ltd. Under this name, he turbocharged over 20 cars. He eventually sold his business to Dynamic Engineering Co. Ltd., where he worked as an engineer on contract until retirement.
When Garrett first set out to form Garrett Engine Company, for the first three years, he kept a personal diary of the difficulties he faced in breaking into the marine market. The company was a one-man-show, and he was salesman, engineer, draftsman, fabricator and mechanic. Imagine him dressed in a shirt and tie, climbing into coveralls, with an engine thermometer and a slide-rule in his breast pocket, crawling around in the engine room of a fishboat.
The Garrett Engine Company operated out of various locations around Kitsilano, Vancouver.
Scope & contentFonds consists of materials created during the course of the Garrett Engine Company's business, including engineering and mechanical sketches, notes, and drawings. Also included in the fonds are photographs of the company's founder, Richard Garrett.