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2200hp Triple Expansion Engine


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ever heard of the Conara building? It's what houses the engine that came out of a CN Boxcar Ferry. It was built in 1918 and used for over fifty years. It's a 4 cylinder triple expansion engine weighing in at about 76 ton. The building that contains it was built to cover it and named after the ship the engine was out of. I thought it would be an interesting subject being I don't think there would be many out there. Nobody would know about it unless you heard about it or you did a tour of the Atchelitz museum in Chilliwack British Columbia. [Chilliwack antique Tractor Land] The pictures I took was difficult not much room.


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Re: 2200hp triple Expantion engine

here is four more pictures of it I'm going to see if I can scan some of the original pictures of it when it came out of the ferry and was transferred by train to Chilliwack.


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Re: 2200hp triple Expantion engine

I thought triple expansion engines had 3 cylinders, anyone care to explain how 4 cylinder triple expansion engines worked?

Very cool by the way, if I ever make it back to Canada its on the must see list.
Re: 2200hp triple Expantion engine

4 Cylinder triple expansion engines had usually 2 LP cylinders.
Triple Expansion engines were the pinnacle of reciprocating Steam Marine until it was abandoned.

Why Two LP cylinders? I believe it was for reasons like engine balance and eeking out the last bits of power before the steam hit the condensers.

This is a good link on Titanic's engines. They were triple expansions. The output of both of the two triple expansion engines went into a turbine. -- So it was quadruple expansion as a whole plant for the ship.


Here's a picture of the the SS Canora.


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I found a couple of other pictures that I had made copies of so I scanned them and I'll try to post them. one is of it being lifted out and two are of the train hauling it, had a little mishap.


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Hi Ramey, I was the one who organised and managed the project to cut the engine out of the ship and transport it to the ATA Museum.
Firstly it was too large to haul by road so the only alternative was by rail. When I asked CN Rail if they would donate the haulage the answer was yes they would move it from the Vancouver Port to within a mile of the museum 76 miles and wave the $7,600 charge. The first photo shows the engine lifted from the ship with a 400 ton waterfront crane. We had no idea what it weighed however the railroads heavy haul manager and I agreed that it shouldn't be over 100 tons . So CN sent us a 100 ton heavy flatcar from Brandon Manitoba to the dock for the engine. At Thornton Yard it was scaled at 153,000 LBS.
When the way freight took it to Chilliwack the siding close to the site had a work train parked on it . The CN dispatcher called and said that he had them spot it on a short siding near the railroad station in downtown and that they would move it to our siding in a week. The local TV station wanted to do an interview about why this huge steam engine was sitting in town. On a nice sunny Sunday afternoon Gordon and I did the interview on the corner of the flat car. While there a freight went by within a few feet . I made the comment that we certainly didn't want to be standing there if the freight derailed at the 45 MPH it was moving. Little did we know that in about 12 hours that was exactly what happened.
The wreck was a three and a half million dollar calamity that was nearly beyond belief. It all started with a fairly simple accident. One of the city streets ended at the railroad station. Driving home in the pouring rain young fellow who had a couple of beers to much found himself skidding across the station platform onto the railroad tracks. The local dispatcher looked out of his office to see a car sitting across the rails. He called a freight engineer who was going to arrive here in about 20 minutes and had him stop about 10 miles east. A wrecker was called and the car removed however in the pouring rain nobody looked to see that the car had rolled the rail outwards. The dispatcher called the freight and gave them the all clear. So coming to the station at 45 MPH you can imagine what happened. I got a call the next morning at 6 AM to say the engine was hit by the two lead units of the freight . When the Diesels split the rails they headed into the siding and demolished the flatcar. the engine shed all 10 - 3/4 inch tiedown cables and slid partially off the car. Fortunately there was a loading dock alongside to keep it from tipping over. The engine was undamaged. The station survived dispite a 50 foot high pile of freight cars in front. A total of 32 cars were in the wreck with about half going directly to the scrap yard.
Ramey if you post the pictures of the wreck and cleanup I will post how it got to the site. There is a picture there of the two cranes and a 28 man CN crew loading out the engine. Cheers George

---------- Post added at 07:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:22 PM ----------

Triple Expansion engines were the pinnacle of reciprocating Steam Marine until it was abandoned.

Why Two LP cylinders? I believe it was for reasons like engine balance and eeking out the last bits of power before the steam hit the condensers.

This is a good link on Titanic's engines. They were triple expansions. The output of both of the two triple expansion engines went into a turbine. -- So it was quadruple expansion as a whole plant for the ship.


Cyberbadger, Thanks for the link to the Titanic's power plant .
This engine here was a John Inglis 4 cyl. built in Toronto Canada in 1918 just before the War ended. Inglis today still builds our kitchen appliances.
They built 42 of these during the First war and another larger batch during the second World War. By then they were improved to produce 2400 Horse.
The 4 cyl was an English design with the following arrangement . The boilers supplied 250 PSI steam to the HP cyl located center forward ,then to the IP cyl center aft which then discharged to two LP cyl For and Aft on each end of the engine. It has been many years since I was on the engine but I think it is HP-28" IP-38" and two LP's 48" diameter . They then discharge into a large 25 ton Condenser which had a large vacuum pump. I think it actually sucked a vacuum on the LP's.
The reason we went to all this effort was the fact that it was the last surviving Canadian built Triple Expanding Engine of this size. Cheers

Thanks for the History, incredible. :wave:

I mainly posted the titanic link just as a reference. These big triple expansion engines were complicated but very efficient propulsion. AND incredibly high in torque especially for reversal.

Very few have survived.

It is a Canadian National Heritage item, even if CA doesn't know it yet. :/

Hey George -

Nice history, and save.

Question: what's the current status of the engine, & future plans for it?

Pete, In 1984 the fellow who owned the ship realized that it was the last of these big Canadian built marine engines and was looking for someone to take it out of the ship to preserve it. Myself and a few others in our club went to have a look at it . Being a tractor and farm machinery club the idea didn't go over well. I couldn't see it going to scrap so volunteered to go get it out of the ship and get it to the site for basicly nothing if the club agreed to build a building for it. I just didn't want to go to all that effort to let it sit out in the weather. Club members had the foundation poured just before the engine arrived. It took our crew at this end 5 months to cut it out of the ship. All of the upper structure had to be cut away, 106- 1-1/2'' bolts had to be burned off the base alone. The ship had to be towed by 2 tugs to the crane and returned . The ship had about 10 tons of Bunker C in its tanks so 5 million in insurance was required and it went on and on. Then there was the CN insurance and the train wreck. I solicited donations for all of this which came to about $22,000 so it cost our club less than $500 on the foundation. When the engine was housed and set up the griping died off as to why are we spending so much effort on a marine engine at a tractor \farm machinery club. For the last 25 years it has been the center piece of the site like it or not.
I live 70 miles away so I didn't want to work on getting it running however unfortunately nobody else wanted to either. until last year nothing was done on it . One of the new members recently installed an electric motor to turn it for show. I always said It is here, preserved and complete with most of its original tools and some day our grandchildren may get it running. There was a move about 15 years ago to scrap it out so that the building could be used for other stuff. You know how these clubs go!
cheers George

---------- Post added at 09:14 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:05 PM ----------

Maybe Ramey will post some current photos showing the mechanics of the engine .It is a huge example of Stevenson Link Reverse. It ran at 140 RPM. This being a railcar ferry Ex CNR, it had a 12 foot prop on each end of a 12 inch propeller shaft.
george hoffman said:
One of the new members recently installed an electric motor to turn it for show.


Does she turn with the electric motor? If she does that's pretty impressive and could bode well for her future...

I guess when it comes down to it, no matter how hard we try to preserve historical items for the next generation, when management changes, nothing is safe. I'm glad you went to the effort to save it, hopefully it can stay safe for the future.
hy to everybody checking out this post thanks for the picture Allen , The link Cyberbadger and the history right from George who was a start to the whole project. My name is Ray Ramey and I have bein a member of the Atchelitz Threshermens Association for the past four years and director for one year and starting as of December 2014 Vice President for the club. I joined to learn from my elders how all this very old equipment works and preserve it for the future. There is no bad things going to happen to this piece of history that I can forsee , a couple of the members have a electric motor hooked up to spin it over and have bein rolling it over. I took a film of the engine and will post it once I get it onto utube. I scanned some of the pictures and took pictures of pictures, they are glued into the photo elbum so I couldn't get them out.


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one more set of pictures.


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This ship that traveled from buffalo, NY to an amusement park on the Canadian shore had a 1446 HP triple expansion engine. It came to our club grounds in 2009. It has been laying on its side ever since. It sounds promising that the Friends of the Cansdiana are going to be able to put in a foundation and get it set upright this year.


Dave Mischler, WNY Gas & Steam Engine Association, Inc.
The Alexander Steam Show
Here are some pictures of the SS Canadianna engine on its side on our grounds.


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Dave , That is a nice big engine too bad it has been out in the weather especially lying on its side . Will be a lot of work to get it freed up. Keep pushing on the club to get it housed.
This may give folks a better understanding of how these big engines worked....


Note the "Engine Pressure and Temperatures Chart", and the change in the labeling from PSI to PSIA.

Average Pressure from Earth's atmosphere is about 14.7 at sea level - it depends on elevation and weather conditions. It's a sneaky way to make things more efficient to make use of that around 14.7 PSI of Earth's atmosphere that is pushing down on us to eek out more power and efficiency....PSIA in the chart is absolute pressure.


Also note that the HP(high pressure) and IP(Intermediate pressure) cylinders have spool valves, and the LP(Low pressure) cylinders have D valves....