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Old 01-16-2012, 01:39 AM   #1
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The Croc's Guide to Stationary Steam Engines

Why Crocs?

In South Africa a crock = a beat up old car but the word is extended to apply to anything well past its prime & that is the category I fall into. The alternative spelling refers to the footwear I appear in on this trip. It is also a play on the Dummies Guide or Rough Guides that are published. So this will be a Crocs guide to some of the stationary steam engines in England.

I am a retired Mechanical Engineer with a long standing interest in steam power – industrial more than locomotive. My wife, Antonia, and I went on a 10 day campervan trip in England visiting some of the stationary engine sites. I will describe them informally pretty much as a comic book – a picture with some comments below.


Why write on ADV?


We have some motorcycling credentials. Here is a picture of me on my bike of preference (I have two)


Antonia trespassing in a titanium mine

Links to some ride reports:
Trip with above picture of Antonia http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=22091.0
2000 km Solo trip right across the Karoo http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=39398.0
5000km solo trip where I retraced a pioneer travellers route. Report written as an external link for the Wikipedia entry on William Burchell http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=51075.0

We both have F650s. A trip on them, picture below http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/inde...3675#msg193675




This trip.
Antonia is English & we were here for her sisters 70th & a brothers 60th birthday. This trip was done in a hired campervan, Antonia did the finding and booking. Her shopping criterion is price so we ended up with the most basic, small and cheap she could find. I will show it later in the thread.
I will arrange the ride report into 4 broad categories:

1. Beam Engines
2. Horizontal Engines
3. Vertical Engines
4. Eclipse of the Steam Engine.

I will also write about the engineering heritage. Antonia is an historical archaeologist (we spell it slightly differently & historical means since there are written records) so heritage is something that has rubbed off on me. I will also digress into some of the technical aspects that interest me. I hope to separate my postings by color so white text will be used for the steam engine posts, orange for the heritage and general off-topic stuff while lime green will be the technical stuff (light colors so they are easily read). My idea is to make it easy to skip the uninteresting stuff. I will happily wander off down loosely related side alleys. My writing style is usually dry & factual but I am going to try and write informally here – it does not come naturally.

I will use footnotes for my references marked like this [1]. If I am saying something not generally known I want serious readers to be able to see where the info comes from. I also want to separate some explanatory notes out of the body of the text. This is no academic paper but I want to distance it from fan-boy hypothesis and urban legend ‘facts’.

tok-tokkie screwed with this post 08-20-2012 at 12:00 AM Reason: Corrected trip distances
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:46 AM   #2
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The Newcomen Steam Engine

First a little background and context. It is widely believed that James Watt invented the steam engine. In fact Thomas Newcomen invented them in 1712 which was 24 years before Watt was even born. By the time of Watt’s first engine in 1775 about 600 Newcomen engines had been made [1].

Thomas Newcomen was an ‘ironmonger’ (= supplier & maker of tools & equipment) in Dartmouth in Devon (bottom left on map of England). In Devon and next door in Cornwall there were many tin and copper mines. These mines had a big problem with water which was pumped out ,literally, by horse power. Newcomen saw the opportunity for a steam powered pump.

His engine was huge. Here is a picture of the one Henry Ford bought & took to the USA where it may now be seen in the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI.


*Source* The early engines did not have those strengthening steel straps.


+Source* An early diagrammatic picture of a Newcomen engine. Check that title: The ENGINE for Raising Water (with a power made) by Fire.. I am an Engineer; the word springs from the Latin ingenium skill, talent. As this is what I would consider to be the very first engine it looks like the word was in use before the first engine even existed, presumably meaning machine. Notice the clothes the men is wearing, it gives a clue as to how long ago this was.


I am really in awe of the courage of Newcomen. It is believed he spent 10 years developing it. That cylinder is cast brass (cannon technology), taller than a man ( 21” bore x 7’ 10” stroke = 533mm bore x 2.4m stroke) with a copper steam boiler directly underneath the cylinder in a specially built building with a huge rocking wooden beam way up overhead. The boiler was adopted from beer brewing. To have done that from a standing start – there was no predecessor to copy or develop upon. My admiration goes to him for starting with such a huge machine and sorting out details like chains running over arches to give the straight line motion needed by the pistons. To make the cylinder circular and straight it had to be rubbed with sand and wooden blocks – this was before the start of the Industrial Revolution so there were no boring machines or large lathes anywhere. He had to work out how to make a steam tight seal between the piston and cylinder.

Although the cylinder was filled with steam it was not a real steam engine. It was an atmospheric engine. Water was sprayed into the cylinder to condense the steam formimg a vacuum so that atmospheric pressure then pushed the piston down. I will post diagrams with proper description next.


Here is a piston we saw at the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology with a person for scale. To form the seal between the piston & cylinder rope was wound round the lip. There were two heavy cast iron collets fitted on top of the rope to squeeze it out against the cylinder. Then water was continuously fed onto the top of the piston to form the air tight seal – the first two diagrams both show the pipe leading out to the top of the piston. Newcomen engines continued to be made for over 100 years – this is a later one with cast iron piston. There is a model Newcomen engine behind her – I did not notice it at the time. The piston was attached to the wrapping chain by 4 short chains from those rings.

The truly remarkable thing is the automatic valves. This is a self-actuating machine. Up until then the only self acting machines were clocks. The small arch carries the ‘plug rod’ which is the cam shaft of this engine. There are pegs or collars on it which trip the valves at the right time to make the machine self acting – the origin of the word tappet we still use today. Originally Newcomen ran water on the outside of the cylinder to condense the steam but then figured out that a spray of water inside the cylinder was much better. The drain pipe from the bottom of the cylinder had to be long (as you see in the first drawing) and dip into a tank of water so the vacuum could not draw air in through the drain pipe.

This was 1712. To give some perspective:
1.….Queen Anne was the English monarch and the United Kingdom had just been formed by Scotland and England.
2.….No USA then as the settlers were still in the 13 colonies & had not expanded westwards across the Appalachians. The population of the colonies was about 380 000 [2]. Declaration of Independence came 64 years after this engine.
3.….Australia was to get its first settlers in about 75 years after this engine.
4.….The first lathe to be made only of metal came 40 years later but it was 85 years after this that Maudsley made the first lathe with screw feed to the slide.
5.….Guns were muzzle loaded muskets. Cartridges and breech loading came about 100 years after this engine was running.

This, to me, is the seed of the Industrial Revolution. Iron and bronze was melted using wood and charcoal not coal (the major use of which was home heating in London). Wind & waterwheels were the only non-animal power. The canal system did not exist let alone railways so everything went by pack horses or wagons on unmade roads unless a river or the sea was handy. And yet this same basic design of a pump persists today in the pumpjack (nodding donkey).


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Old 01-16-2012, 01:48 AM   #3
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EDIT: Removed formatting query.
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Old 01-16-2012, 01:49 AM   #4
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I went to the Science Museum in London – really to look at the clocks. There is this Newcomen engine there.


The person at the back on the left shows how big it is. The A frame to the left is not a functional part of the engine but it does help to stabilise the structure and is useful when maintenance is required on the pump down the hole and it supports the walkway to the pump chain. The outside wall of the engine house is the wall that the beam pivots on as you see in the first few pictures. This is a relatively late Newcomen engine because it has a cast iron beam.


Another picture I took a few years previously. There is one in his birthplace, Dartmouth, but it was way off our route. It was built in 1791 and was in use for 127 years until 1918 (15 years after the first aircraft flight!) which is over 200 years after the first one went into operation. Obviously Newcomen’s design was brilliant to have persisted for that long. Watt made his first successful engine in 1775 so you can see that Newcomen engines persisted well after the Watt engines were introduced.

John Smeaton was probably the leading civil engineer in the late 1700s. Besides building bridges, canals, harbours and stuff he also did mechanical engineering like waterwheels and windmills. He was commissioned to provide an engine. First he did a very thorough investigation of several existing Newcomen engines by visiting and measuring (physical as well as performance) them before he made a working model to test his ideas. After that he made several steam engines, the initial one was a disappointment but his later ones were a very big improvement on the others (in that they used much less fuel = were more efficient).


Source:*Stanley Graham*
This is his best engine at Chasewater in Cornwall, 1775. Note the open top cylinder with the pipe for the piston water seal. The piston suspended by 4 chains. (Remember the 4 rings on the cylinder I photod?). Haystack boiler. The beam is exceptional, a 10 ply composite wooden beam formed so there is no loss of material for the axle hole. Although the proportions have been optimised there is no fundamental alteration to the original design of Thomas Newcomen. It represents the apogee of the Newcomen engine just as the Watt engines were coming into play.


Photo: Chris Allen @ geography. The working replica Newcomen beam engine at the Black Country Museum.
There have been a sucession of ages mankind has progressed through. Stone Age – Bronze Age -- Iron Age & Newcomen started the Steam Age in 1712.

Videos:
1.….Video of the replica working: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls9djCRMSh4
2.….There is a Newcomen engine in his home town, Dartmouth Devon. It is hydraulic powered so not very realistic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV6nwU_oDOE

Sources:
1.….Wikepedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Newcomen
2.….Population of 13 colonies. http://merrill.olm.net/mdocs/pop/colonies/colonies.htm
3.….Very detailed paper about Newcomen engines http://www.himedo.net/TheHopkinThoma...ce/Wallace.htm
4.….Thread about the Dartmouth engine: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/antique-
machinery-history/very-old-engine-unusual-engine-bit-difference-engine-234001/
5.….Pdf about the model at MOSI http://www.mosi.org.uk/media/3387178...ericengine.pdf
6.….Another good chapter about Newcomen engines. R.L.T.Rolt http://www.himedo.net/TheHopkinThoma...ce/Wallace.htm

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Old 01-16-2012, 01:50 AM   #5
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First Steam Engine in America

This account of the first steam engine in America comes from a book about Newcomen by L.T.C.R Rolt. He is an interesting man, the eventual preservation and restoration of the British canals can be traced to him – I will make a long digression about canals soon. He wrote biographys of several steam engineers including my hero Richard Trevithick. Here is his account of the first steam engine in America.

The most notable Cornish engine builders at this time were Jonathan Hornblower (son of Joseph, Newcomen's associate), John Nancarrow (who had provided Borlace's list of engines) and John Budge. The engines built in Cornwall were of a higher standard than those in the north of England, for fuel economy was all important and provided a great incentive for engine builders to strive for greater efficiency. Moreover, Jonathan Hornblower disseminated a wealth of experience which he had inherited from his father.

It is appropriate that it should have been Josiah, a younger brother of Jonathan Hornblower, who was responsible for introducing the Newcomen engine to the New World. This historic engine was ordered in 1748 or 1749 by Colonel John Schuyler who, with his two brothers, owned a copper mine in what is now North Arlington, New Jersey. Copper had been found on the Schuyler estate in 1715 and was profitably worked by driftways until 1735 when it became necessary to sink a shaft. The ore was exported to the Bristol Copper and Brass Works where it fetched $40 a ton. When the shaft reached a depth at which the water could no longer be cleared by horse power, John Schuyler made the inquiries in London which led to his order.

Josiah Hornblower was chosen, perhaps by his better known elder brother, to erect the engine and on 8 May 1753 he set sail from Falmouth on a coasting ship bound for London where the engine parts, many in duplicate and some in triplicate, had been gathered ready for shipment.

With the engine and its erector on board, the American ship Irene sailed from London on 6 June 1753 and encountered such rough weather and adverse winds in the North Atlantic that she did not reach New York until 9 September. The rigours and perils of the crossing were such that Hornblower swore he would never make an ocean voyage again. Much to the sorrow of his family in Cornwall he kept his vow and never returned.

At New York the engine was trans-shipped to a smaller craft which carried it through Newark Bay and up the Passaic River to an unloading point at Belleville opposite the mouth of the Second River. It was then carted overland for about a mile to the head of the mine shaft which was located near the junction of Belleville and Schuyler Avenues in North Arlington. So arrived the first steam engine in the American continent, an event less celebrated than the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers but no less pregnant with significance for the future.

All the engine parts were on site by the end of September 1753, but erection was a slow and laborious job for Hornblower. Stone for the engine house had to be quarried from the mountains and trees felled for the engine beam and other timber work. The accounts show that no less than 211 days were spent in carting stone, timber and clay for bricks to the site, and it was not until March 1755 that the engine was set to work. The engine appears to have worked well and was twice rebuilt following damage by two successive fires before the mine was finally abandoned in the early years of the nineteenth century. It would appear that at each rebuilding a new cylinder was fitted, the first two being of brass and the last of iron. The diameter of the brass cylinder is not stated, but on the 1889 evidence of Mr Justice Bradley of Washington, who married a grand daughter of Hornblower, the last cylinder 'was of cast iron, an inch or more in thickness, nearly eight feet long and more than two and one half feet in diameter'. A relic preserved in the Smithsonian Institution, the United States National Museum at Washington, is believed to be the lower half of this cylinder. The engine is said to have pumped at the rate of 134 gallons per minute from a depth of 100ft using a 10-in diameter pump barrel, an iron lifting pipe in 8ft sections and wooden spears.

Josiah Hornblower married and settled in the district where he was associated with the mine until 1794. In that year he built for the last owners of the mine, Messrs Roosevelt, Mark and Schuyler, on land which he sold to them on the outskirts of Belleville, the first ore stamping mill in America. Here, too, the mine owners established a foundry and machine shop where the first steam engine to be manufactured in America was made. This works was named Soho after its famous counterpart in England, but the historical link is not with Boulton and Watt but with Thomas Newcomen through Josiah Hornblower and his father, Joseph. Josiah Hornblower died at Belleville on 21 January 1809 in his eightieth year. According to C. W. Pursell's Early Stationary Steam Engines in America the only other atmospheric engines built in America were at a Philadelphia distillery in 1773 (which was never completed), at New York Waterworks about 1774-6 and at an iron mine in Rhode Island about 1776.

Source: http://himedo.net/TheHopkinThomasPro.../RoltAllen.htm

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Old 01-16-2012, 05:33 AM   #6
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tok-tokkie

Very interesting post.
You may find this link interesting. It seems to have taken Belleville some time to honor Mr. Hornblower.
http://www.oldbelleville.org/josiah.html

Oddly enough I use to work in Belleville NJ.
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Old 01-16-2012, 05:47 AM   #7
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Old 01-16-2012, 06:00 AM   #8
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Google pics from Midwest Old Threshers and Settlers, Mt. Pleasant , Iowa
They have stationary ones from various plants.

http://tinyurl.com/6ng33f2


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Old 01-16-2012, 06:01 AM   #9
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Thanks for the link to Bellville.
'-------------------------------------------------------------------------

How a Newcomen Beam Engine worked.


Here is an excellent animation. It omits some items. Speed of animation is adjustable, each step is also illustrated below the animation.
http://www.animatedengines.com/newcomen.shtml




Source: *Henry Ford Museum Engine*



Operation:
1.….Steam did not push the piston. Instead the steam was drawn into the cylinder as the piston rose due to the weight of the pump rods on the other end of the beam. Steam was then made to condense by spraying water into the cylinder so the air pressure on the upper side forced the piston down. The diagram is wrong – the cylinder is open at the top.
2.….The left hand side (in the diagram) was heavier so once the piston was pulled down valve B could be opened and the piston would be pulled back to TDC drawing in fresh steam which was at no real (gauge) pressure. Close valve B & open valve A letting water spray again to repeat the process.
3.….The rocking beam has arches at each end with chains going down to the piston and pump rods. The arches ensure that the rods move in straight lines. The chains mean that only pulling forces can be used. Later changes had to be made so that the piston could push the beam and the beam could push a connecting rod to a flywheel.
4.….The diagram is poor because the collars on the vertical plug rod (rod that operates the valves) should be spaced apart so the levers are only activated at the ends of the stroke – not progressively as they would be as drawn. Note also in the earlier drawing of the engine the valve and priming pump are operated by small arches on the beam.
5.….Note that there is a cistern tank up near the pivot of the beam which is kept full by the little pump on the left also operated by the beam.
6.….These drawings don’t show it but the earlier drawings show the pipe from the header tank taking a small flow to the top of the piston to form the air tight seal. Air in the cylinder would not condense so if there was an air leak the piston would short stroke more and more as air leaked in at each stroke.
7.….No drain from the cylinder is shown in this diagram. The first diagram shows the pipe going down into the cellar. It had to be quite long ending below the water surface of the sump. As the steam condensed in the cylinder dropping the pressure so water from the sump was drawn up the drain pipe – it needed to be long enough that air was not drawn up into the cylinder – it was an automatic valve in effect preventing air getting into the cylinder through the drain.
7.….Also missing is the snifter valve. It is a small valve at the base of the cylinder. When opened steam would blow out. It was used to purge the air from the cylinder before starting the engine and also to purge any air that accumulated during running; air that had been dissolved in the boiler water.
8.….The second drawing is also incorrect in showing the top of the cylinder being closed. It was open as in the first drawing. Closing the top was one of the changes Watt made.


The big shortcoming with these engines was the need to reheat the cylinder every stroke. The water spray condensed the steam but it also cooled the cylinder. Then, as the piston moved down, the upper part of the cylinder was exposed to air on both sides so iy cooled. Besides that the piston had a steady flow of water above it to form the piston water seal against the cylinder. When fresh steam was drawn in it condensed as it heated the cylinder. A large part of the steam used to drive these engines was taken by this parasitic re-heating of the cylinder every stroke. Watt made two subtle change which addressed that deficiency.


There is one Newcomen engine in the USA at the Henry Ford Museum. One in Dartmouth Devon, England (Newcomen’s home town) and a replica at the Black Country Living Museum near Dudley , England (where the first Newcomen engine was erected). There is also one at Elsecar in England but it has been heavily revised over the years and is not open to the public.


Sources:
1.…. Very good description with pictures http://192.197.62.35/staff/mcsele/newcomen.htm
2.….Wikipedia has a good entry about Newcomen with an animated diagram of the engine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Newcomen
3.….Here is a separate entry about the engine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcomen_steam_engine
4.…. Scan of Rolt & Allen The Steam Engine of Thomas Newcomen Chapter 5 Technical Developments 1712 -1733 http://himedo.net/TheHopkinThomasPro.../RoltAllen.htm
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:19 AM   #10
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Great thread. Something I was always curious about but never pursued beyond observation of steam powered tractors and railroad engines. Thanks.
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:49 AM   #11
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This thread brings to mind a company that sold model steam engine castings. I've tried to find it again, think it was called Leroy's maybe in Indiana. They had engines up to ones like in the link below. Self starting reversing.

http://www.steamech.com/marine-engine-model.htm
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Old 01-16-2012, 07:55 AM   #12
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Wicked

Don't want to nit-pick but Dartford is in Devon, not Dorset.

Good stuff, thanks.

-Simon
(in Devon!)
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Old 01-16-2012, 09:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Natural View Post
This thread brings to mind a company that sold model steam engine castings. I've tried to find it again, think it was called Leroy's maybe in Indiana. They had engines up to ones like in the link below. Self starting reversing.

http://www.steamech.com/marine-engine-model.htm
There....fill your boiler!

http://www.ministeam.com/index.html

Great thread BTW, I used to go to sea on a steamship and like history lessons.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:12 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by H96669 View Post
There....fill your boiler!

http://www.ministeam.com/index.html

Great thread BTW, I used to go to sea on a steamship and like history lessons.
Nice site! Got Leroy's narrowed down to selling Stuart engines, but nothing on Leroys yet. They use to have display set up at Old Threshers as I remember.
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Old 01-16-2012, 11:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Slimie View Post
Don't want to nit-pick but Dartford is in Devon, not Dorset.

Good stuff, thanks.

-Simon
(in Devon!)
Sorry, Dartmouth is in Devon!

-Simon
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