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Donkey Engines


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  #1  
Old 01-01-2003, 09:20:02 AM
Ralph Leonard
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Default Donkey Engines

Hi folks, in reference to engines, what does the term donkey, or donkey engine mean? And how did this come about?

I see this designation occasionally even in Hilo. In the Kona Coffee Plantation gift shop there is a 2 HP Famous vertical "Donkey Engine" on display.

An archives search didn't help. Thanks, Ralph in NC
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  #2  
Old 01-01-2003, 09:40:54 AM
D. Smith
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Seems like I heard that term refering to a wench, engine to power a wench. D. Smith
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  #3  
Old 01-01-2003, 10:04:50 AM
DANIEL DORECE
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

I have heard the tearm used as a generic reference to fractional horsepower engines.
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  #4  
Old 01-01-2003, 11:01:55 AM
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Harry Harry is offline
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

The twin cylinder one on the left is what we heard folks refer to as a Donkey Engine, used in mines to winch the miners and ore up the mine shaft.

The one in the middle is a compressor engine for feeding breathing air and jack hammer air. The boiler is a Fairbanks Morse!

These monsters are all over the place in Southwestern Colorado if you Jeep back in far enough. We has a blast there a couple of summers ago. This site is up at about 11,000 feet accessed through La Plata Canyon. Unfortunately, the B.L.M. is "cleaning up" the area by bulldozing antiques like these into the shaft and covering them over. Way to go Sierra Club.




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  #5  
Old 01-01-2003, 11:50:33 AM
Randy
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Harry, Is there any way that some of these can be saved???
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  #6  
Old 01-01-2003, 12:32:29 PM
d.j.baisch
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Default To much time on my hands

I am a westener by birth, and seems that Donkey was the name oldtimers called the steam engines, that replaced[ Donkeys that were used in the woods,] to drag timber from areas where they were cut , with a series of cables and blocks, the term naturally moved on with the advent of the gas engine, hence--[Donkey}in place of a live donkey, snow and cold Idaho--d,j,
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  #7  
Old 01-01-2003, 01:10:44 PM
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

As to saving old iron at the mines, the tree huggers have gotten it into their heads that the land is for the trees and the animals. Our country's mining heritage is an open wound on the earth.

To me, I've enjoyed years of picking rocks and minerals off mine tailings and seeing and photographing the old shacks that the miners lived and worked in. I've done this since 1968.

Today, we have a different force in place, acting by influencing congress with their movie star contributions. The only way you can counteract this force is to be one yourself. That means a calm, organized letter to your congressman and senators, explaining your feelings about the preservation of our history.

If you are ever in Butte, Montana, stop in at the World Museum of Mining. At least they have saved a lot of the relics there.

Also, Lake City, Colorado has a mining museum, but it's in Colorado's outback. We went there after visiting Carson City, a ghost town off the Alpine Loop where we met a modern day miner, Joel Swank, who showed us his relics. By the way, the road to Carson City from the Alpine Loop was probably the worst road I have ever driven on, but the scenery and wild flowers and rocky moutain high (the feeling of the driver) couldn't be beat. If you ever want a driving experience, take the Alpine Loop all the way around, but pack lunch AND dinner because it will take you all day, mostly in four wheel drive.


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Old 01-01-2003, 01:49:42 PM
Jim Tremble
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Default Re: To much time on my hands

Hello DJ

I was born and raised here in Washington State and have heard alot about this subject over the years.

The term "DONKEY" was used years ago (and still is) for the engine on a stationary winch setup for moving the downed logs for loading, just as you have described.

The engine, whether steam or gas, was the replacement for the Donkeys and Mules that did the job before the engine came into play.

Before the engine, "Donkey", there was 3 ways to move the logs.

1--A team of Mules would travel in a circle thus winding a stationary winch that was blocked to the logs to be pulled. (There is an old rotory winch still in the woods on Mt. St. Hellens. You have to backpack to the site to see it. We found this years ago while Elk Hunting.)

2--A team of Mules pulled a straight line which was blocked to the logs to be pulled.

3--A team or double team of Mules pulled the logs directly from the woods to the landing to be loaded. (very dangerous on the down hills)

Hope this answered your question,

Jim
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Old 01-01-2003, 02:17:59 PM
Ralph Leonard
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Default Re: To much time on my hands

Thanks everyone for all the response, this question has been with me since we were there on vacation about 5 or 6 years ago.

The plantation guide said the engine was used to power a coffee grinder in earlier years. There was also a larger engine, I believe it was about a 5 HP hopper FM, and a large coffee grinder on display. The guide said he did not know why it was called a donkey engine.

Thanks again and love this site Harry, Ralph in NC
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  #10  
Old 01-01-2003, 03:48:12 PM
Marty
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

I've heard the term around here frequently as a substitute for "pony" motor. It's sorta like describing or asking "what is an antique" ? "Antique" covers so much ground, other than what's in the dictionary, it would be difficult to pinpoint just what an "antique" is. I think the same for "donkey engine"... different meanings in a different locals.
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  #11  
Old 01-01-2003, 04:28:21 PM
David Greenwalt
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Marty, antique is easy. According to my kids-Antique: anything as old as dad. Absolutely ancient: anything older than dad.
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  #12  
Old 01-01-2003, 05:11:37 PM
Richard W.
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Here is a link to a couple of photos of a steam donkey.




Steam donkey
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  #13  
Old 01-01-2003, 05:25:33 PM
Richard W.
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Another picture of a donkey.

There is some other interesting pictures at this site that are different than the hot link. Paste the URL in your browser.

http://www.willapabay.org/~museum/steam.htm




Anatomy of a steam donkey
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  #14  
Old 01-01-2003, 05:26:17 PM
Marty
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

I wonder then just where I fit in... I'm right on this side of being a fossil but still not an "antique". Maybe coz I'm not for sale. The Yard donkey? gosh I sure would like to have one !
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  #15  
Old 01-01-2003, 08:39:23 PM
Brian Lynch
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Definition. Environmentalist: Spoiled rotten pampered rich kids that can't hold a job in the private sector. Also see: watermelon, bunnyhugger, treehugger, panda kisser, greenfreak.
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  #16  
Old 01-01-2003, 09:00:10 PM
harvey teal
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Lovely pics. Out east the donkey engines were used to harvest every piece of standing timber for either sawtimber or for charcoal, which was used to fire the iron smelters of the early industrial age. At the turn of the 20th century many of the mountains in eastern NY and Vermont were denuded of forests. Fortunately Mother Nature returned the forests to us. Some of the old donkeys are still out there in the woods.
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  #17  
Old 01-01-2003, 09:37:44 PM
Mike in NC
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

AMEN!!!!!!! Mike
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2003, 02:58:26 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

You forgot the "Fish Kissers" here in the Pacific Northwest.
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2003, 03:09:18 AM
Russ Hughes
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

We measure an engines output in horsepower. Small engines don't put out as much horsepower as large engines. Therefore small engines were refered to as "donkey engines" as compared to those that could produce real horsepower. The important word in any case was "small" as compared to "large" and donkeys are smaller than horses which are larger.

Donkey engines ran the deck winches on ships and maybe they called them that because they were smaller, or to differentiate them from the main, or propulsion engines on the ship.

Now that is about as good of an explanation as I can come up with, without nearly repeating something that someone else already said about the subject.

This web site can really get a guy to thinking once in a while. Thank's Harry!
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  #20  
Old 01-02-2003, 09:35:00 AM
Ralph Leonard
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Default Re: Donkey Engines

Hi Russ, there is now a fly in the ointment. I had come to the conclusion that any engine that replaced animal power became known as a donkey engine.

If shipboard engines were called donkeys, I'll have to rethink the origin of the name. What you added about size also makes sense.

It seems now that the name has been applied in general. Like, all portable circular saws are Skil saws even if made by Black and Decker.

Thanks again, Ralph in NC
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